By Michael Clarke
By Garry Lever
By Barrett & Lever
on ALL Writings &
this Web Site.
By Mark Bishop
The Shinken Dojo 真 剣 道 場
|Ryusyokai Okinawa Goju Ryu Karate 琉 翔 会 沖 縄 空 手
Ilfracombe - North Devon - England 英 国
Web Sites of Interest
Budo Code of Respect
|"7 times Down 8 times Up "
I received an e mail from a fellow Karate ka recently which was very sincere and nice to receive as always. Within there was mention
of me not posting anything on here for a short while, I smiled at this, as I do...Most of the time with Karate we should just quietly go
about doing what we do without saying to much really, so at times I prefer to do just that. Does ones silence not speak volumes? Just
as Quality and Quantity can be either a fine or thick line apart too.....
Anyway, within the message I received I was also asked this very question
“What are your thoughts on most of the traditional karate training that is around and being taught these days”?
I am not quite sure what one was expecting. But, my answer was this
“Many misconceptions and a lack of understanding to the training”. Simple and to the point…
Now, I am not talking about hard training, school or style differences, or effectiveness when I say the above, as there is certainly
plenty of this around for sure, it is also so easy to think along these lines and miss the point that is being made, in the same way that
those who feel that by knowing hundreds of kata, training techniques, or Bunkai applications, then automatically equates to them
doing real or good quality Karate training.
Quite recently there was some video footage released of Minoru Higa Sensei of the Kyudokan, where by he both speaks of and
demonstrates Okinawan Karate. What is evident and very clear to all who take the time to sit back and listen to his words, take in his
advice, and witness his explanations? Is that there is a vast depth of understanding behind the basis of his Karate, and the true
teachings of the Karate of Okinawa too for that matter, certainly more than is being practised by those who are just kicking,
punching, and blocking their way through the years and grades.
Speaking of Quality Karate training and video footage, a friend of mine as in Jon Hallberg Sensei, has put a little footage on “You
Tube” for those interested in working on the Machiwara striking post. Although quite brief it is very informative indeed, whilst being
clear to see by its contents that just like most parts of Authentic Karate, and in contrast to popular belief or misconceptions, there
always was and is so much more to be learned and gained from using this training tool than just standing there bashing it until ones
hands drop off.
(Wednesday 19th February 2014)
|"Karate Quality & Quantity "
One of my favourite Japanese proverbs is “Seven times down, Eight times up” or “Fall (Get Knocked Down) Seven times,
stand up (Get back Up) Eight”. Personally, I feel that this saying epitomises the teachings of Karate and Budo just perfectly,
as at times of struggle and hardship, no matter how difficult, it is this more positive way of thinking that is crucially important for
the rebalancing out of our every day lives. So, this being the case, whilst in Okinawa last autumn it was this saying that I
requested when asked by Hokama Sensei what I wished for him to brush scroll for me. These were words were not chosen
cheaply or randomly, but for very good reason and with deep meaning so that one day they can hang on my Dojo wall for all
who enter to be constantly reminded of their value. The saying also acts as a reminder of one’s that my father would often say
to me when I was struggling with something, he used to say “Where there is a will, there is a way” & “Anyone can do the
easy things in life son”.
Many within Karate may simply just interpret “Seven times down, Eight times up” in a way that if someone knocks you down in
a fight, or in life, you get back up and you keep coming back, you just don’t give in. I can go along with that as in many ways this
is fine and valid, but it also takes things to the most basic and primitive too. I believe that in extremely serious situations and in
many cases, ones natural animal instincts and survival mode tends to naturally kick in, one would hope so anyway. Not giving in
and keep going is a winner that is for sure. But, not backing down, seeing reason through compromise, or not letting things go
just to save face can also be a loser too, which is a vast subject in itself so I will leave things there… Personally as I say, I feel
that the true meaning of this proverb is much deeper than the more obvious, and one that many Karate Ka can at times often
fail to see, possibly leading to their eventual demise.
As far as its origin goes I have heard various old explanations from babies learning to walk their first steps, where by 1 is when
they begin to try and walk and then fall, 2 is when they get back up again, they try again to walk at 3, they get up again which is
4… 7 times down and 8 is up. Thus they don’t give in and keep trying until they succeed. Another account I have heard is that
the horizontal stroke in the character of the Japanese number seven 七 is cut through by the vertical bar representing defeat.
Regardless of how it derived English equivalents can be likened too “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” and
maybe “Give up or fight like hell”.
The one thing that I do believe is this, what defines us as individuals in life, and Karate Ka, is how we rise after falling, together
with how we cope with and push to overcome very difficult, challenging, and testing situations. That is why in most cases the
better mentors or those that we should look up to for advice and guidance is healthier coming from those who have been there
before, as in those who have the past experiences and determination and human spirit to overcome such obstacles. Not just
those who think that they have, all talk as if they have! Yes! Just as the true meaning of the word Sensei derived too.
Anyone and everyone can practise Karate when everything is going well and fitting nicely in to place alongside our busy life
styles. The Dojo and Sensei of quality and our choosing is very close by, the training is motivational to suit ones needs, the
evenings or days of training are our most suited, we are feeling refreshed, the weather is nice, our job is good and paying
nicely too, all of our loved ones and family are in good spirits and health.
“Seven times down, Eight times up” I believe that the true meaning and understanding of this proverb comes to life and is
fully understood by the Karate Ka / Budo Ka, when any of the last paragraph are reversed or not in place and we are truly put
to test:: Training is becoming difficult even a little tedious, or one is struggling to juggle practise around life style and work
commitments, maybe even having no where of value to train, or no one to train with, or a real Sensei that is hours away by
travel or only seen by the student irregularly, or maybe one sadly no longer has a Sensei at all, or one that just does not teach
us as we want, or see fit. Perhaps, the Dojo day of training is inconvenient, we are feeling low and tired, the weather is cold,
dark or wet, our job is making us feel stressed, we are carrying an injury, we are witness to family problems or ill health…..
The genuine Karate Ka and their true character will be discovered at such times as those presented above; all Karate Ka may
and will waver at times, as is to be expected. But, there can be no real excuses except admitting defeat. The eight times up is
about digging in deep with determination and dignity when all is not easy and challenges are put in front of us, thus forcing us
to both persevere and push through with the true spirit of Budo.
(Monday 24th February 2014)
|Tetsuhiro Hokama Sensei of the Kenshinkai
brushing the Japanese proverb
"7 times down 8 times up"