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Character and Technique

It is just as important to work on character as it is to work on technique. In the dojo, we sweat from our hard training. In daily life, we also have many experiences that test our character. What makes a Karate expert (or an expert of any martial art) great, is not just that he has excellent technique (and applications), but that his character is just as excellent, if not even better.

Sadly, some people use their advanced level in a martial art as an excuse to indulge vices. For some people, martial arts training magnifies their egos, anger, short tempers, jealousies, and vices in general... and their high rank allows them to get away with it.

But this is not just a martial arts thing. Power corrupts many people in many walks of life.

But at the same time, martial arts training also brings out the best in many people. Martial arts training can magnify the good in a student, and give him the strength to help others in difficult circumstances. We tend to hear only of the bad cases, but I suspect that there are ten good examples for every bad one.

For every step forward you take on technique, you also have to take a step forward on character. The progress has to be equal, throughout your Karate life. This is an easy thing to say but a difficult thing to do. Technique alone is much, much easier. But technique alone can create people who could abuse their knowledge, skill, and position.

So what should you do when you meet bad examples? Learn from them how not to be. That is also useful and can help you to avoid pitfalls.

Technique and character must be two side of the same coin.

And may I add that you do not develop character by simply yelling about it in the dojo. Just as the techniques of a kata are applied in self defense situations, the lessons of character that we learn in the dojo are applied in daily life.


Charles C. Goodin