Do as Jitsu

Do 道 arises on the basis of jitsu 術. Do and jitsu are not separate or alternative paths. They are one. Without doing the hard work needed for technical mastery talk about spiritual aspiration remains talk. Disciplining the mind, strengthening the will, overcoming obstructions to the skillful use of the body, are all required for real karate-do.

Sakiyama Sogen, Roshi. Karate student of Miyagi Chojun.
Abbot of Kozenji in Shuri and Zen teacher of Nagamine Shoshin.
Teacher of the author.

Demanding, honest training is medicine. It is a refuge from cultural dissolution. It is a path to freedom and dignity.

Many people today feel lonely. Life choices seem pointless. People feel depressed, anxious, bored, resentful and frustrated. Aggression erupts.

The prescribed remedies: drugs and alcohol, porn and promiscuity, wealth and power, pleasure and leisure, offer relief quickly followed by a big, fat nothing. Lives fall apart.

Emergent conditions are undermining loving families, the value of work, orientation in the transcendent.

What do practitioners do about that?

We get together with mutual respect and shared aspiration.

We learn, sweat, live and train together.

We challenge each other.

We appreciate each other.

We act with purpose:

To unify our bodies and our minds, and make them our own.

To take command of our conditions, make choices, increase our ability to take care of ourselves and look out for others.

We choose the deep, demanding heat and pressure of training in which the possibility of success and failure are always with us.

At the end of a session of training, at the end of a life of training, we feel the release, elevation, and peace that come from doing honest, hard work.

Training once in a while will not have much effect. Making it a lifelong habit will have a transformative effect that never ends.

Who knows what challenges we will face: Threats. Disrespect. Deception. Assaults to reason and dignity, to friends and family, to body and mind.

We prepare to prevail. We live with honor. We go deeply into this world as we go beyond it.

That is how jitsu becomes do and do becomes jitsu.


Post by Jeffrey Brooks, not a Zen practitioner, leads Yamabayashi Ryu training at Mountain Karate Dojo in Saluda, NC. He is the author of The Good Fight – The Virtues and Value of the Martial Arts and The Rhinoceros Tale – Martial Arts and the Path to Freedom; Post copyright © 2021 Jeffrey Brooks and Mountain Karate Dojo, LLC

Older photo source unknown. Please contact for photo credit.

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