Grosse Pointe Karate Club
Master Shimabuku's Isshinryu Karate Code
During the last decade, man, as a technological innovator, has accelerated his rate of learning and accomplishments at a rate far beyond the imagination of the most visionary of science's founding fathers. This very intelligence has made man the strongest of earth's guests because man is able to utilize natural resource to his advantage and is the only creature to perfect the use of tools for his own need. As he is the strongest, so is man weak because of his vanity and selfishness.
Master Shimabuku relates a story of an old chinaman who was traveling through the countryside when a terrible storm broke loose. Upon seeking shelter in a nearby cave the old man found himself face to face with a tiger, who like himself, fled the elements and sought shelter in the cave. The old man, for he was wise with many years, had no interest in anything but shelter, and made no motion toward the tiger. The tiger also bore no malice toward the old man, and in this manner they shared the cave together. They both had something in common and were in harmony. So, "if a man's heart is the same as heaven and earth" he has no quarrel and therefore no need to fight.
The moon and sun are necessary to life itself. Without their energy and growth cycle, plants could not survive. And, because animal life is directly dependent on plant life, then man himself could not exist without the moon and sun. A plant may bend in the wind but if it breaks then it dies. Animals must move or they will die for they must move to seek food and shelter as it is with the blood. It must move or it will die. If it is taken from us, we will die just like the broken plant. Without the moon and sun and their effect on environment, existence itself would be impossible. Without blood man could not exist, thus "the blood circulating is like the moon and the sun."
The hard-soft or Yin-Yang principle is repetitive throughout Eastern thought. As to drinking, one can sip (soft) or gulp (hard), with each having its purpose and offsetting the other. In karate, there are both hard and soft techniques. When blocking a blow, it is possible to meet the attach head-on force against force (hard), or deflect or parry the blow by gradually dissipating its force as it goes (soft). Good self-defense techniques are often the result of tuning both hard and soft movements to produce desired results.
The following is a story that recalls this principle. There is a peaceful, little village in Okinawa called Yoshihia whose beauty was well known. It was always off-limits to American servicemen stationed nearby. True to human nature, the forbidden became the most desirable and it was only a matter of time until several Americans decided to visit the town - off-limits or not. There were those in the village who wished the town to remain Okinawan at all costs. When the Americans tried to take over, a terrible fight ensued and an American Army Captain was killed. The Americans who were not supposed to be there in the first place became incensed at the Captain's death and a series of vicious encounters followed. Eventually, armed guards were stationed around Yoshihia to prevent trouble from starting again. The village that had been quiet and peaceful (soft), found it necessary to become violent (hard) so they could once again become quiet and peaceful.
This is one of the more obvious parts of the code and it principle is one of the first taught to beginning students. If you are unbalanced, then it takes a minimum of effort by your opponent to upset you and you fall as though felled by a large weight. This principle is applicable in virtually all aspects of everyday life. If a person is out of his depth in his job, he achieves his position through a weak qualification, then he is in a state of unbalance and can be easily upset.
In a self-defense reference, this means being able to meet attackers from any direction. Most fighting stances utilize this principle by placing more weight on one foot than the other. If the body wight is split 50/50 between both feet, then neither can move without upsetting balance. When most of the weight is on one foot the other is free to move, attack, or change stance. To master everyday living, one must, in similar manner, be able to handle problems of all types coming from a variety of sources. We all know someone who is such a specialist at one thing that he cannot cope with other types of challenges. To be ultimately successful, whether at living or at self-defense, one must be aware of everything around him and be able to change directions to face new problems as they arise.
It sounds so simple, yet it is so often neglected. In any strata of society, the people who get ahead are those who can spot opportunities are not afraid to act on them. This concept is of utmost importance in self-defense situations where opportunities may come only in split-second packages. If a drunk in a bar says he is going to whip you and then reaches for a beer bottle, you know it is the time to move. By his own words, he has already made it a self-defense situation, and it is the fool who will wait for the beer bottle to start swinging before he moves to defend himself.
Literal application of this idea means developing agility in the use of peripheral vision. The next time you are going down the sidewalk, try walking with your eyes ahead in an natural, unfocused attitude. As this comes more easily to you, you will notice that movements and objects on either side are much more easily registered. This is applicable to human relations by trying to always consider the other person's view of the situation. Most things in life, ideas included, take on new meaning when reexamined from another viewpoint.
This obviously ties in with the one above. It is impossible to "see" another person's point of view until you "hear" his reasons for thinking that way. This can be hard to do if you are involved in a discussion the outcome of which will have a direct effect on your life. The trick is to totally dispel your opinion from your mind and listen to the other man as if your were an impartial judge. If there is truth in his words, then that truth will become obvious. It can never become obvious if your mind is obstructed by your own thoughts. The ability to hear in a 360 degree circle greatly increases the amount of information you take in, and gives your mind more material to work with when you have to make decisions. The next time you are in a crowd of people, listen carefully to conversations beside and behind you. With a little practice, you will be surprised at how much more interesting life can be than by restricting yourself only to what is directly in front of you.