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Why Character Is Emphasized

I know... I tend to emphasize character. Character this and character that. Karate in daily life. Respect. Courtesy. Discipline. Kindness. Compassion.

Why this emphasis? The answer is simple. It is a given that through hard work and dilligent training, almost any student can become skilled at self defense and many can become quite dangerous. Unless character (broadly defined) is taught and emphasized at each and every stage of training, there is a risk that a student will become negative and destructive, egotistical and angry, uncontrolled and unsafe... a loose wild animal.

One day I was practicing Iaido with Dr. Noboru Akagi. He asked me if I knew what to think when I drew the sword. I relied that I did not. He explained that I should think, "don't draw, don't draw, don't draw." As I prepare to draw my sword, I should project the thought that the attacker should not draw his sword so that I will not have to kill him. The sword is a treasure in its saya (sheath).

We cannot wait until a student is skilled to teach him character and values -- by then it may be too late. Becoming skilled is a given. That is why we have to emphasize character from the start.

And if a student quits after a few weeks or months, at least he will have learned some lessons that might help him in daily life. Respect. Courtesy. Discipline. Kindness. Compassion.


Charles C. Goodin