- THE PENNY
- Both sides
of the coin
- It is an
undeniable fact that in life there are two sides to
- Take the
Canadian penny for example.
- On one side
of the coin we have a picture of her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth the Second, her name, and a Latin inscription
printed around the inside edge to the coin. Now if we
turn the penny over and look on the other side of the
coin we will see that there are five individual items -
can you name them? No cheating now - after all you are a
martial artist - so just sit where you are and think
about this for a moment. You have seen hundreds if not
thousands of pennies in your lifetime so how hard can
- What five
things - and yes there are only five - are on the obverse
side of a Canadian penny.
- How well
did you do?
- Two out of
five - one out of five - five out of five?
- How long
did you last before you went and found a penny and
checked for yourself or asked someone else for the
- As I said a
moment ago, there are two sides to everything in life.
There are two sides to every argument, two different
points of view if you will, and even if you feel that you
have a justified defence for your side of the argument I
am sorry to be the one to tell you, but that does not
necessarily make you right. But not to worry you are not
alone, history is full of examples of people who defended
a position that they thought was right, only to find out
in the end that they were utterly wrong.
- In the end
being right or being wrong has nothing to do with the
point I am trying to make, which is simply, that there
are two sides to everything and if you want to "see"
things as they really are then you really do need to try
and see both points of view.
- So what
does this have to do with karate you ask yourself.
- Well just
as in life, in karate we also find that there are two
sides to every position. One defensive and one offensive.
The perfect example of this in Shotokan karate is kata.
Kata has been defined as many things, "a series of
defensive and offensive movements against a number of
imagined opponents", "a battle against ones
self", "a path to inner peace through physical
meditation" - and so on, and so on. Yet no matter
how you might personally define kata there is one
inescapable fact, there are two sides to every kata, and
if you ever truly hope to say you "know" a kata
then like the penny you must first know both sides of the
- So with
that thought in mind let's take a closer look at how most
students go about practicing their katas.
- Without a
doubt the most common way of training kata is for the
student to stand on a particular spot on the dojo floor
and then go through all of the kata's movements in their
proper pre-determined order, and then look down at the
floor to see if they "got home".
- Once is not
enough of course, and so they will do this over and over
again until finally they begin to feel that they have a
clear understanding of the kata and all its intricate
- But I ask
you, what about the other side of the coin.
- What about
looking at the kata from the attackers perspective? You
remember the attacker don't you, the "unseen"
opponent that you have defeated time and time again as
you moved through the kata on your way "home".
Well what about what the attacker wants. For one thing
they certainly don't want you to be victorious when it is
all said and done, no sir, if they had their way you
would have been defeated very early on in the kata, at
least by move six. You do see their side of the argument
don't you, after all their task as the attacker is to
make sure that you don't get through your kata unscathed,
instead of finishing "on your spot" the "unseen"
attacker really wants you to walk off the dojo floor
thinking to yourself - "boy did I screw up - oh well
you can't win them all - better luck next time".
- Chalk up
another "win" for the attacker.
- So just how
do we go about looking at a kata from the attackers point
- Well as in
any two sided discussion the only way to really see
things from the other persons point of view is to put
yourself in their place, to take their side, and when it
is all said and done to see if you still think you are
right. So it is with any kata.
understand the defenders position you must also make a
point of trying to see the kata through the attackers
eyes, and to do so you must now put yourself in the
attackers place. You can do this with or without a
partner, either way all that matters is that you attack
or defend at the appropriate time and place, while always
viewing the kata from the attackers perspective. Do this,
and do it regularly, and you will find that training your
katas from the defenders point of view will begin take on
a whole new meaning, who knows, over time you may find
that like the penny you now have two sides that can been
clearly seen and understood.
- In the end
the object of any kata is to try and "see" from
all points of view, to defend and attack, when and where
necessary, to try and eliminate the small lapses in
concentration, to reduce unnecessary movements, in the
end kata is about learning more about yourself, and as in
life growing from the experience.
- As for the
penny, on the reverse side you will find : a maple leaf,
the date, the value, the word "Canada" and on
the right hand side in small type the mark of the mint
that made the coin.
- See, that
wasn't so hard.
- Now - what
is on the obverse side of a 1948 Canadian silver dollar?
is a pre-requisit to success.
- Part the
clouds - see the way.
objective of karate-do is to contribute to the evolution
- of the
human spirit through physical and mental training."