Monday, 23 March 2009
Karate ni sente nashi
As I was reading the news online today I was minded of the famous Funakoshi quote, "Karate ni sente nashi". This translates as, "there is no first attack in Karate".
You could argue about the exact translation or the meaning behind this phrase but the article I saw made me think about this in a slightly different way. Or maybe it's the same meaning. The article is a very sad case of a man who in his rage punched another guy and killed him. Technically it was the head banging onto the floor which killed him but either way he's dead. He's been taught a lesson eh? Maybe that's what the aggressor thought..., "I'll teach him a lesson!"...BANG! Dead. This is how it happened, I'm not exaggerating. The incredibly sad thing is that the judge in the case says of the man who perpetrated this crime, "I am confronted with the prospect of having to sentence a perfectly respectable citizen who has committed an act which has had simply appalling consequences."
The judge sees him as a "perfectly respectable citizen" who has (this is my interpretation) lost his cool in a moment of madness and decided to teach the other guy a lesson. Well it seems that the lesson is a very harsh one: death of a young fella and maybe 2 and a half to four years in nick.
Behind Funakoshi's saying there may be an idea of benevolence towards our fellow humans (let's all get on). We encounter so many people in our daily schedule that invariably we'll come across a dickhead from time to time (and don't get me wrong- I'm sure I'm somebody else's dickhead from time to time too!). Don't strike out says Funakoshi, don't attack: use your art for self preservation. The added dimension to this that I feel this news article brings to me is that it highlights the fragility of the human body.
I studied Systema for two years under some fine teachers and at one seminar we were coached by Vladimir Vasiliev: one of the head honchos of Systema who, when asked how he dealt with aggression, said that he avoided, shirked it. He yielded, and tried not to get into a physical fight. His point was that the human body is fragile. Despite being very well trained and knowing how to disable assailants without killing them, even he knows that things can go wrong and someone could end up dead. If he can help it, he just doesn't take the risk. And he makes sure he can help it by not being there.
Of course this is all rather a negative view of why not to strike first. A way of self-preservation. As I said at the beginning there may be many ways to interpret Funakoshi's saying, or maybe he just intended it as read. My main point is to highlight this rather sorry tale of a guy who strikes in anger "not in self defence" and to see the terrible results.
Keep your cool. Don't lose your head. Don't lash out.
To finish with here's a (sort of ) relevant Systema video with Vasiliev showing 'redirection' of an opponent.