- CAN YOU
DRINK FROM AN EMPTY CUP
- Refills are
- In the
beginning, in order to correctly perform all of the
physical movements required in a new kata, you will
undoubtedly need to devote a high level of mental
concentration to the task at hand.
- This of
course is only natural, since the movements, stances,
techniques, timing, and other aspects of the this kata
will be new and unfamiliar to you. Over time, however,
this will change as the kata starts to take on a
physically comfortable familiarity.
- In due
course you will find that your "body memory"
will become more prevalent, and at about the same time
you may also begin to notice another subtle change taking
place, as you sub-consciously switch from "thinking
of what the next move is", to simply "doing the
next move with proper thought".
- It is
probably fair to say that by now you will in all
likelihood have practiced the particular kata in question
at least one hundred times, and having done so, it is at
this juncture that you should begin to understand that
the real difference between "thinking of what the
next move is", and "doing the next move with
proper thought", is the real difference between
simply "doing the kata" and starting to "know
- Now if you
can truly say that you have arrived at this point, then
whether you know it or not, you are now at a very
important juncture in your kata training, and in all
likelihood you are now probably ready to move up to what
many call "the next level".
- It is here
that you may come up against a very old karate saying
that is often voiced, and that is, "in order to do
kata well, you must first empty your mind".
- But lets
face it, to truly empty your mind of all thought is
- So what
exactly does "empty your mind" mean?
- Does this
mean for example that we are now expected to sort of
sleep walk our way through all of our katas without
thinking, as if in some kind of trance, while at the same
time using the katas to seek spiritual enlightenment, or
- I think not.
- Here in the
West the expression "empty your mind" really
takes on a whole different connotation than in does for
those students who are born, train and live in Japan, and
other parts of the Far East. In truth "empty your
mind" is one of those expressions that really does
not seem to translate very well, I suppose primarily due
to the cultural and philosophical differences that exist
between East and West.
Westerners for example might look upon the expression
"empty your mind" as meaning, "to think of
nothing at all while performing a kata". While in
fact exactly the opposite it really the case. You should
always be totally involved both physically, as well as
mentally in all aspects of any kata that your are
- As for me,
after more than twenty-six years of practicing Shotokan
Karate "empty your mind" really translates into
"control what enters your mind". The real goal
as I see it, is not to "empty your mind and to think
of nothing at all while doing your kata", but
instead to "empty your mind of everything but what's
need to do the kata". Trust me, there is a big
difference between these two approaches. You must "be
in the moment" so to speak. Your mind must not let
in what your eyes see, and your ears hear. You must truly
focus only on the kata.
- Can other
students in the dojo tell when you are working on a new
example, take a moment when the opportunity presents it's
self and watch one of the more senior students in your
dojo perform a particular kata. Just by observing their
stances, techniques, pace, posture, and balance, even if
you are a mid-level kyu belt with only one, or two years
experience, I would bet that in most cases you would be
able to guess correctly whether or not your senior was
practicing a kata that they are very familiar with, and
that is fairly well integrated in to their body memory,
or that instead they were "thinking" their way
through a kata that is relatively new to them, and one in
which "thought" is still playing an obvious
difference is all in the mind.
- The mind as
we all know is a marvel of nature, capable of performing
a countless number of conscious, and sub-conscious
thoughts, while at the same time processing a wide range
of sensations, and mental images in less than the blink
of an eye. So the "control" part is where your
karate training must come in. Proper repetiton, proper
focus, and a proper mental attitude, are all need at each
and every step of the way if you ever expect to perform
your kata in harmony with your body and your mind.
- I know, a
lot easier said than done.
- I asked at
the beginning of this narrative if you can drink from an
- Well can
- How you
choose to answer this question I think in the end says a
lot about you, not only as a person, but as a martial
artist as well.
- For me the
answer is, no.
- Empty is
- But as one
karate-ka to another, however, if you ever do decide to
try and take a drink from that empty cup, count me in,
and pour me a glass as well, and together we will see
just where the journey takes us.
- A kata
without the body, mind, and spirit
to work in perfect harmony ,
- is an
empty, and hollow thing indeed.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."