Martial Arts Teaches You to Win
Martial arts teaches you to win but what does it mean to “win”?
Takashi Soke said, “to soak in with my opponent, to become one, that is the way to victory. When the energy from my opponent and my own join, when they become one, the struggle has ended.”
Winning is much more than just “overtaking” your opponent. Sure martial arts can teach you to win but there is a level of sophistication to it. When we are in competition with others then of course winning is the objective but how do you do that? Is winning everything?
In order to understand what Takashi Soke was saying above you must first be able to think beyond the simple way of winning and losing. I want you to challenge yourself to move beyond the elementary understanding of winning and losing.
Obtaining true victory is much higher than simply winning. How does one even define winning? How do you define winning?
A True Understanding of Victory
Often, we speak about blending with our opponent’s attack. We talk about connection, and connecting through the center. I’m not a big fan of using the word “blending” but for now, that’s the term we’ll use. (In another article I discuss why which I’ll link to below as a supplemental reading).
But what does that really mean? Is it simply a mechanical function?
If it remains a simple mechanical function then it is sterile. Devoid of spirit and life. This would be contrary to the philosophy of martial study and any understanding of this year’s theme of Intent. In Takashi’s own words he spoke of blending with an opponent’s energy.
As you can see there are many layers to this idea. In martial arts training, the simple act of punching and kicking is but a small portion of what we do…but I digress.
So what is Takashi talking about? and what is energy?
Using Your Opponents Energy
Energy is produced by the force of the attack. Whatever form that attack may take. It is a result of physical action, and mental and emotional intent or substance. The energy of your opponent, plus your reaction to this energy becomes quite the dynamic concoction that can’t be ignored.
When “blending” with the opponent’s energy we must be able to become one both physically and mentally. The mental aspect of this is often overlooked in other martial systems.
At the Budo Shingikan, our goal has and always will be to develop the complete martial artist. Both physically and mentally so that they can adapt to whatever stimulus they are presented with.
We often train the physical aspects of dealing with and blending with an attack with great proficiency. Where others often omit the internal aspects for lack of understanding them, we do not. Therein lies the difference.
What is the Study of Life and Death?
Shimabukuru Hanshi spoke of this. In the study of the sword, he said that “Our study is the study of life and death.” To an untrained person that may seem like a morbid thing to hear. So allow me to explain.
It is a difficult concept to teach and explore in the safety and serenity of the dojo.
But what Shimabukuru Hanshi was articulating was, in standing with true budo philosophy, to have technique without spirit, without intentionality, without meaning, is to have blind devotion to the systematic uselessness of movements that lead nowhere (death).
To blend with my opponent is more than a simple mechanical function. It is a living and dynamic event in which I blend with my opponent on every level. And in so doing, the path to victory is revealed.
For my students: What is Musubi? What is Awase? How are these things alike, and how are they different?
For others reading this, I hope you get a better idea as to what Budo Shingikan Dojo is about. As you can see we’re more than just self-defense in the physical sense. We also prepare the mind for anything that may come your way. Whether it’s an assailant, a tough life challenge, or an obstacle of some other kind.
We want you to be able to become one with your “opponent”.
The study of martial arts is a long and wonderful journey with many benefits to the practitioner. Come join us!