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Restraint

When I am asked about the most important thing in Karate, I always say restraint. As students, we try our best to learn the techniques of Karate and to condition our bodies so that we can move with speed and power. However, we also have to condition our minds and temperament.

A Karate student should be extremely reluctant to use the destructive techniques of the art, unless it is absolutely necessary. The feeling should always be "hold back, hold back, don't fight, don't fight."

Just as a police offer keeps his pistol in its holster, we should keep our hands held back (metaphorically in the pocket or sleeve). In the same way, a sword should be kept in its sheath (saya).

After restraint, I always add peace. Karate students should emphasize restraint and peace.

Now to some people I'm sure this may sound pretty weak! Restraint and peace may sound like the traits of a person who cannot fight at all. That may be true. However, it is also true of some people who can fight extremely well -- but are always trying their best to avoid having to do so.

Nuclear reactors can produce incredible power. Nuclear power stations are so large because it takes a great deal of concrete and steel to safely house the reactor. And even then there can be accidents. The more powerful (and potentially destructive) a Karate student becomes, the more restraint he or she needs.

A student with destructive power but lacking in restrain is an accident waiting to happen.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin