Shu Ha Ri

 in St. Louis - Dave Hanson's Gateway Karate

By: Sensei Dave Hanson

 In the last movie in the trilogy of the Karate Kid series Daniel says, “But my karate comes from you.” Mr. Miyagi responds, “Only root karate come from Miyagi.  Just like bonsai choose own way grow because root strong, you choose own way do karate.  Daniel says, “Yeah, but I do it your way.” Miyagi replies, “Hai, one day you do own way.” This is an example of what they call in Japanese Shu Ha Ri.  Shu Ha Ri is an age old martial art principle for success as the student grows to make his martial art, his own.  If we break down the word, we will likewise see the process for personal development in any field of study.  You could apply this same process of Shu Ha Ri to almost any other endeavor you undertake to master in your life. Shu literally means to “obey”.  This is the first step to learning and to being a good apprentice you must obey the teacher and follow his example to master the knowledge passed on to you.  You observe. You perform. And you ultimately perfect what has been taught to you. The next word is completely opposite to Shu.  Ha can be translated to, “break away.” At this point you have internalized the teaching enough to apply them on your own and start to adapt your teachers lessons to fit you.  This could be considered the ultimate compliment any teacher could receive. In karate, this would be where your karate fits you and not your teacher and it becomes part of who you are as an individual.  The last word Ri, means to “go beyond.”  This is where you take the legacy of your teacher add a dash of your own experiences and understanding to the recipe and further the art.  Your intention is to make whatever you do, better than you found it.  Shu Ha Ri is a never ending process of continual growth and improvement as we take what was given to us from past generations, improve upon it and pass it onto future generations to continue the work.  When we do our part we insure the legacy of the art that we leave behind and leave our finger prints on it for future generations to discover, enjoy and improve.   This is the essence of Shu Ha Ri.

 



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