Shiai

 in St. Louis - Dave Hanson's Gateway Karate

By: Sensei Dave Hanson

Shiai can be translated in Japanese to literally mean competition.  That’s what we call a karate tournament.  But it’s not what you may think.  On the surface a shiai is what it appears to be, a competition between athletes who are well trained and prepared to demonstrate their skills in the ring. But for the karate-ka (karate student) the meaning goes even deeper.  It is a competition with yourself.  A competition to prove your strengths and reveal your weaknesses.  A shiai reveals your spirit and character.  The great basketball coach from UCLA, John Wooden, once said, “Competition doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”  That is also true of a karate shiai.  Your character is developed on the mat in every class you attend and it is revealed in the heat of battle of competition.  John Wooden also didn’t look at himself as merely a basketball coach, but a teacher and the court was his classroom.  His favorite thing about his job was not winning ten NCAA championships, but it was the practice.  During the practice he could do what he did best and that is to teach his young athlete not only how to be better basketball players, but how to be good men. Men of character and honor.  We are here to make our students better at karate and we don’t stop there, but we want to teach them how to be good people inside and outside the dojo.  People of character and honor.  And when we do compete that character is revealed and their honorable way they carry themselves and treat their opponents is on full display.  Unfortunately in the karate world and sports competition in general, you don’t see much of character and honor, but whole lot of showmanship and attitude.  This should never be a apart of karate.  Karate  is about respect and discipline.  If the student is prepared for competition it will be evident by the way he carries himself and his performance of his skills. Not the performance that most athletes give after they compete in showboating.  Remember to look at competition in any endeavor as a test and not a performance and you’ll be a better person for it.

 



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