It seems karate is practiced in many schools as a sport. Many people would like to see karate as an event in the Olympics. Unfortunately, the Olympic Committee’s interest is in sport competition. Goju Ryu karate is not a sport, it’s an art. An art is a discipline. The more one practices, the more one’s knowledge deepens. It is not “a game,” but requires serious effort, patience, time and commitment.
A sport athlete’s career is over at a certain age, while a martial artist may train and improve all of his life. His body may slow down, but his mind and spirit quickens. The movements maybe subtle, but more effective. While athletes look to sport committees, martial artists look to the “Masters.” They’ve learned to control themselves, as well as control situations. They’ve earned self respect, and by training with others, respect others. By studying a martial art, you learn much more than just fighting.
The goal in the martial arts is not a gold medal. It’s the journey one experiences. From consistent training, one will reap many benefits. Improved health, self confidence, self control, self discipline, self awareness, concentration, coping with stress, and self defense skills, are just to name a few. These are some of the tools one acquires in the martial arts. Tools can have more than one application. Once these tools are acquired, they can be used in a variety of situations in life. The spiritual aspect is just as important as the physical aspect. When one has the ability to turn off pain and endure, one can transcend one’s own expectations and goals.
Another aspect in Goju training is the sempai/kohai relationship. Sempais are the seniors, while kohais are the juniors. The status of being a sempai is a revered status. It is also a position of great responsibility. As a sempai, one enforces the discipline when there has been a sign of a lack of respect. The code of conduct is carried out in both kyu and dan ranks. The sempai is also a mentor. The kohai learns not only skills and codes of conducts, but they also learn their obligations to the dojo.
The word, samurai, means one who serves. Regardless of what one has accomplished in their life outside the dojo, when one sets foot inside the dojo, you’re simply just a man or a woman. We have many powerful people of influence in the dojo, you would never know it during class. They have learned to be modest with their physical and influential prowess. This is one of the noble characteristics of a Goju karateka.