Monday, 27 August 2012

Personal Challenges..What's Yours?

The right hand of Morio Higaonna sensei - Makishi dojo, 2008
I have no doubt that some of you looking at this photo will dismiss this level of conditioning, and move on, safe in your own smugness that it's no longer necessary to condition your hands in this way, because you don't have to fight armed samurai anymore...and besides, it would hurt!

Ok, I agree, Higaonna sensei does appear to have gone past the point where most others stop when it comes to forging the hands into formidable weapons, but I'm not sure turning his hands into flesh and blood sledgehammers was ever the point. From my conversation with him on that particular visit to his dojo in 2008, I came away, more than anything, with a sense of the challenge he has been setting him self on an almost daily basis for as long as I've known him....thirty years.

Like all authentic karateka, Morio Higaonna is not training so he can fight someone else and win, he's training so he can fight the negative aspects of his own character and not loose. As his character is a part of who he is the fight is a daily one, and is therefore no less challenging than it was the day before. Whether you agree with conditioning your hands and body to the same degree Higaonna sensei has or not, you might do well to ask yourself this: "Do I face my personal challenges in karate with as much conviction as Morio Higaonna faces his?"

If you have suddenly realized you've never identified a personal challenge in your karate (wanting your next promotion doesn't count), then maybe it's time you did; and when you do, and when that challenge begins to break your will to continue, then perhaps you'll look at Higaonna sensei's hands again, and see them in a new light.