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Dojo v's martial art

You must go beyond dojo practice to become a martial artist.

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy’s cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him.” – Miyamoto Musashi 


This quote is so often misunderstood, that I want you to pay particular attention to it, and I will do my best to clarify this, for it is dear to me. Before we start, consider that in his later years Musashi stopped killing people, and used a wooden sword. Now to the heart of the matter. 

And this has to do with training and practice, and with learning in the dojo, and applying in real life. What is learned in the dojo, after a time, is a type of game. You soon lose your fear, at least the most superficial level of fear, for having done the same thing over a span of time. You know your opponents, and you know you are not going to die. With that knowledge you learn their favorite techniques and create ways to meet them. 

None of this is available when you meet a stranger for mortal combat. If your practice has been winning “points,” in the dojo, you are now in trouble. 

If you take the trouble to watch various karate tournaments on YouTube, you will see they have evolved into elaborate and ceremonial games of tag. It would serve you well to jump from such to an MMA match. There is a vast difference, and those who won the karate tournament would die in an MMA match, or on the street in mortal combat. 

Many practice a martial art with the thought of promotion to a higher rank. And they will study how the judges think and prepare themselves for this. 

The part of your being that evolves to face death will not be trained if you are doing little more than learning an elaborate dance. You must visualize your opponents when doing your practice. Before beginning a practice you must imagine that you are walking toward an opponent. With your first move into practice it must be as it would be out of the dojo and in the street. 

Many who practice karate in a dojo, when asked to perform their kata before all, will not do as well as when alone. Think on this deeply, their performance has decreased considerable because of an audience! What will happen when confronted by several street toughs? Your spirit must not waver. 

Martial arts practitioners come in all sizes and abilities. Some will dominate due to these factors, but that doesn’t make them a martial artist. You should be able to due your best anytime, anywhere. Without being stupid strive toward any opponent, anytime. 

In other words if you are asked,” Are you ready?”

The answer is always, “Yes.”

And then do your best. 

There are so many who think to themselves, “Real time, I will do okay.” I was one of them. Once as that thought passed my mind, it came to me that it is always, “Real time.” 

If you read this far and wonder what this has to do with being your best version, there are two points. Musha Shugyō is a journey for excellence and this one produced one of the greatest martial artist of all times so that his thoughts and comments are worthy of consideration and study. And then the specific point here is that mental maps and classroom work will never take the place of actual experience.