|Helping each other take a hit|
Like most things in life, there is a time and place for 'getting into it', for having those fun, almost physical, conversations about technique, bunkai, and kata. But, I've always subscribed to the view that if you still have the energy for all that BS at 1 am in the morning and several beers later, then you probably didn't spend enough energy actually practicing when you were in the dojo. Besides, much of what passes for enthusiastic conversation, is nothing more than one person's ego taking an opportunity to impress its self (just one more time) on a captive audience.
So, back to being strong, and how strength might manifest its self within the context of karate. Personally, I've never been impressed by a karateka's physical disposition. Big muscles and height don't count for much in my book. I've seen plenty over the years relying on both, because that's all they had to offer. Being strong in this sense is fine, for a while. But, as time passes, brute force and ignorance never serves you well, and you end up with the all too familiar 'bad back', 'sore elbow', 'busted shoulder', or 'damaged knees', etc, etc, etc...........
Okay, so the kind of strength that leaves you a cripple is probably not the best way to go about things, but what about internal strength? What about Ki/Chi power? I've been listening to the conversation about this stuff for over 40 years (I can already hear the theme from Enter the Dragon even as I write this). But look, I have no idea what Ki and Chi is or isn't. All I do know is this, whenever I've had an opportunity to have it 'used' on me it never worked. Perhaps they were doing it wrong (or was it me not being receptive enough?) I don't know. While I'm all for people believing in what they want about this stuff, don't ask me to believe in it too unless you can prove it....on me!
Here's the kind of strength I admire in karate. It's the strength shown when you really don't want to practice but you practice anyway. When life hits you so hard you can hardly keep it all together, but you still go to the dojo. When your teacher proves to be a god with feet of clay, and, having thanked him or her for their help, you move on. When you live up to your commitments, when you teach yourself the difference between a reason and an excuse, when you stop wanting, give more than you take, and last but by no means least, when you accept yourself for who you are, warts and all. Budo is not about combative strength, it's about balanced living. I read something recently that captured the essence of the strength I believe karateka should display.
"The awareness of our own strength, makes us modest..."