When does it end
In karate, as in any other endeavour, the answer you get to a question often depends on how you phrased the question.
Some questions draw simple answers.
Other questions do not.
Some questions may even draw the dreaded answer, "ask me again in three years".
Which is the answer your Sensei probably thinks will do you the most good in the long run, since what it really means is , "go away, train hard, and after years of proper practice you will probably find the answer for yourself".
Some answer it seems never come easy.
Now the other day in the dojo it so happens that I was asked a very interesting question. It is a question that in my opinion, very few students truly know the correct answer to, the question was, "when does a technique end?"
Many students, beginners, and seniors alike, often make the mistake of believing that a technique, for example a gyaku-zuki, ends once the technique has stopped it's forward motion.
This, however, is not correct.
While it is true that the technique it's self may no longer be "in motion", there is a term in karate called, "the continuing mind."
In essence, this refers to the belief that in karate the "mind" and the "body" must always be regarded as "one" and as such, inseparable. Therefore, it is very important for students to understand that just because the "body" is finished with the technique, this does not mean that the "mind" is finished with the technique.
For example.
While the physical action of a gyaku-zuki may have stopped just short of contact with the target, the "energy" generated by the unity of the body, mind, and spirit, although unseen, is still actually moving forward. It is the "mental visualization" or "conscious belief" that this still "moving energy" will ultimately bridge the gap that exists between the fist and the target, that gives rise to the term "the continuing mind".
Perhaps one of the best examples of the concept of "the continuing mind" takes place in the Japanese art of Kyudo, or archery.
In Kyudo, or "the way of the bow", students are taught that they must first "see" the arrow hitting the target in their "mind". Once they have drawn back their arrow, and released their grip on the bow string, and let the arrow fly towards it's target, they must continue to maintain a conscious link.
It is because of their belief that their "mind" and the "arrow" must still remain as "one" that students of Kyudo never take their eyes, or their mind, off of the arrow, but instead they follow the arrow all the way to the target, all the time remaining mentally focused on the arrow as if "willing it" straight and true to its objective.
Thus, when the arrow finally strikes the target, the arrow still remains a part of the archer, even though they are now separated by a great distance.
Do you understand?
This is a very important concept to grasp.
The idea that a karate technique of any kind still has motion, even though it has ceased moving, is very Zen in thinking.
This type of thinking reminds us, that in karate, a student's "mind set" is critical to the out come of any action.
In everyday life it is not uncommon to hear a person say something like, "I am sorry, my mind wandered for a moment". In karate, as in life, however, a wandering mind can often get it's owner into all kinds of problems.
This is why one of the most commonly stressed aspects of karate is proper "focus".
A focused mind should be alert, yet so occupied by the task at hand that it does not have time to think of anything else, thus ensuring that the student's goal is more likely to be achieved.
The simple fact of the matter is that without good concentration and good focus on whatever they are doing, it is very easy for a student to injure themselves, or their training partner, and since you are always responsible for the health of your partner, or your opponent, a clear and properly focused mind is very important at all times.
So train hard, pay attention to the little things, and never forget, that just because your technique has stopped, that does not mean that it has ended.
After all a continuing mind knows no limit.
Without the mind and the body working in
perfect harmony, proper technique is not possible.
Part the clouds - see the way.
"The objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
of the human spirit through physical and mental training."
Sensei Peter Lindsay, Go Dan, (FSKA)