Karate-ka and The Katana

 in St. Louis - Dave Hanson's Gateway Karate

By: Sensei Dave Hanson

   The karate-ka and the katana are as sharp and as powerful as the man who wields them in battle.  As I reflect on the similarities between the karate-ka, or karate student and the katana, the Samurai sword, I’m reminded of many of their similar attributes.  In the days of ancient Japan when the Samurai guarded the feudal kingdoms of their Shogun they had to be ready for battle.  For many of us today, We have become unaccustomed to the cost of true battle.  The protection from our government and the ones who protect our freedoms give us the assurance that we can go about our day in relative peace.  For most of us the closest we will come to battle is the occasional sporting event.  But for the Samurai of the past and the soldiers of the present who protect our freedoms, the threat of life and death in battle was and still is very real.  The Samurai didn’t go to battle everyday, but they trained everyday like it was going to be their last day. They would practice their martial disciplines and polish their swords frequently as they kept their weapons sharp for the day when their services would be once again called upon.  The weapons of the Samurai were many, but their most notable weapons were their sword, their body and their mind.  And they had to keep all of them sharp and ready for action. Always prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life in the heat of the battle.  The karate-ka is no different.  Karate means empty hand and true we don’t wield a sword, but our body, mind and spirit are our weapons of choice that we refine, discipline and cultivate into a weapons of self-defense.  Like the Samurai of old would polish their swords daily, we polish ourselves and our spirits through training.  The sword in Japanese is called ken and similar to the sword, using a different Japanese character, the fist, the weapon of the karate-ka, is also pronounced ken. Like the Samurai polished and perfected their sword with total commitment to the anticipated battle, we too must prepare our fist and our spirit like a sword keeping ourselves mentally and physically sharp. Like Samurai preparing his sword, training helps to keep your mind, body and spirit prepared for the battles that life brings your way. 

 



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