Martial arts have always been shrouded in mystique. This can often lead to students leaving martial arts in search of the truth or becoming disillusioned. Very occasionally someone comes along, say an instructor, who is willing to unravel the cloak of secrecy from the inquisitive student and show him the way.
Sen-Shin means, (clear your mind) practice karate hard and systematically. I’m sure you’ve heard the words don’t ask questions keep training and everything will reveal itself in time. In other words, you are not allowed to question what you are doing or why you are doing it. Of course not in all cases, but in many that have Japanese instructors it is endemic, or as the tradition likes to say, you don’t question the teacher, you just do what he tells you. However, when you practice in the dojo it is the opportunity and place to empty your mind and a place to train your body.
soft must follow hard
The more you can free your mind, the more you can learn. Remember Sen-Shin. An example of this is the Chinese practice of Qigong pronounced Chi-Kung. It is an ancient Chinese discipline that combines mental concentration, breathing technique, and body movements to activate and cultivate your vital energy as it flows through the invisible channels of the body.
Additionally, Qigong teaches you to use your mind, body, and spirit together to unlock energy and balance Yin and Yang energy in the body. Qigong is a simple and powerful form of exercise that is practiced in China and throughout the world. Anyone can immediately benefit from your practice. Qigong exercises teach the basic idea of using awareness to go into the void. It is a state of pure energy where you are one with the universe.
For example, when you sleep, you feel relaxed and at peace, you bring your mind and body into emptiness, and we all do this automatic meditation without realizing it during sleep and periods of deep relaxation. When practicing Qigong we go into the void where we balance Yin and Yang, feminine and masculine energy. Many teachers will tell you that the most powerful techniques are often the simplest. What this means is that many of the techniques taught in dojos around the world today are too complicated, for example some kata with their applications (Bunkai) shrouded in mystery. In their fundamental form, Karate and Qigong exercises are very simple. No need to learn complicated or ‘um’ secret moves, especially when it comes to self defense where a simpler approach has been proven time and time again to work better.
Martial arts masters already know that mental power is more powerful than physical, because without the mental capacity and the ability to turn your aggression on and off as you see fit, you will not defeat your enemy (attacker), even even if you are big and strong but without attitude the will to win (brain power). In short, if your opponent has more than you, guess what, you will be defeated. You have to cultivate within yourself through regular training the hard (external) and soft (internal) techniques that result in the overwhelming will to prevail no matter what. It’s that easy.
Practice every day and reap the rewards
From my point of view, martial arts have a destination but many routes to get there. There are also many styles and schools of karate and other martial arts disciplines.
In many, however, their goal of building inner strength remains fundamental to all. Therefore, in your soft training you must follow hard because it offers a method to train the nervous system, mind and internal organs simultaneously so that the inner strength of the whole person is raised to a new level of power and fitness. For centuries, this knowledge was only passed down within families or a small circle of chosen teachers or students and was kept relatively secret. It is only recently that it has been taught and discussed.
Following this maxim, martial arts students through the development of extraordinary internal and physical powers have enabled practitioners to break bricks and stones with their bare hands. Qigong (Chi Kung) literally means energy exercise, and it is a gentle form of exercise in movement, you are like a silent angry tiger, you are like a sleeping dragon. You just have to be patient enough to realize it.
In China, early morning attracts people from all walks of life and of all ages to start the day by performing traditional exercises in parks and forests wherever they live. They can be seen doing stretching movements, others are training in various martial arts, Tai-Chi or Chi-kung, the slow and gentle exercise that develops and relaxes the entire body. Among all these moving forms, practitioners are completely focused on deep inner growth. As previously stated, for centuries the art was a closely guarded secret encompassing all soft and hard martial arts training. It could be said that it is the hidden treasure of Karate.
‘The successful warrior is the average man/woman with laser-like focus’