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The balance of Karate

You might have heard of the terms Go and Ju. Especially if you practice Goju Ryu karate.

Translated it means hard and soft style, and came from a poem found in the Bubishi:

Everything in the universe is breathing hard (go) and soft (ju), in and out.

This never really meant much to me until recently and I thought it was just a name of the style. The more time I've had to sit with it, the more it's started to make sense.

Karate is a balance between tension and relaxation. But it's also a balance between body and mind. In fact, I believe the term Goju doesn't just refer to hard and soft but is a way of generalising balance within the universe. Deep right?? Hear me out...

Everything is a state of balance. Water for example. Too much heat, and the water evaporates. Too cold and it becomes ice.

Even our sun is in a state of balance. Technically it's called hydrostatic equilibrium (got to love google). It's a balance between pressure and gravity. The sun is applying an outward pressure while gravity is applying an inward pressure. Without gravity the sun would explode and without the pressure it would implode. Either way it wouldn't be great for us if the sun wasn't in a state of balance.

But you could apply this to your relationships or training. If you're having an argument and both people are being aggressive (hard), then nothing will be resolved. However, if one is in a relaxed state (or soft) and the other aggressive then you'll (hopefully) find a compromise and resolve the issue. That's not to say you should just apologise from the start, but if you go into an argument all guns blazing, then it probably won't end well.

With training...if all you do is focus on one aspect, then are you aren't benefiting from everything karate has to offer? Flexibility, strength, speed, kumite (fighting), kata (forms) history, philosophy, the list goes on.

If you take a step back and try and look at a different aspect of karate (or even martial arts generally) then you never how it might help other areas. I recently tried Kung Fu to try and get a different perspective on karate and it really did help (check out the blog post here)

As Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid said:

You remember lesson about balance? Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better."

(did you hear his voice when you read that? ha ha ha)


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