By Nir Zimir
Eilat Karate Dojo, Eilat, Israel
"Softness & Hardness, Flexibility
& Rigidity": There are no bad traits; only
bad ways of using them.
Soft: gentle, accomodating, moderate
Hard: Tough, flexed, stubborn
Flexible: movable, dynamic, compromising
Rigid: Unyielding, penetrating
Language and its connotations can be misleading. Often we view SOFT as the oposite of
HARD. Is SOFT bad when we judge its concept in the context of KARATE, and if so, does that
make HARD automatically GOOD? We know we strive to encorage our bodies, through
training, to be FLEXIBLE. Does that mean we can do without RIGIDITY in KARATE?
All four represent human traits, abilities and capabilities. Are some of them always
appropriate and the others always not so? The answer is, of course negative; each human
ability can be appropriate for a certain set of circumstances and completely harmful or
useless in others.
In order to maintain freshness of thought and be alert to the signs around us
we need to be calm. Calmness comes from softness. In order to react in sync with this
reality, we need to be flexible, which negates rigidity.
Having reacted in a timely fashion to an opponent's threat, we need to crystalize our
energy in a concise and focused peak. This peak can only be effective if backed by clear
rigidity crowned with a hard-hitting edge.
Even when judging our traits from the opponents' perspective, we find that duality: while
flexibility of mind and softness of stance will enable us to better protect ourselves, it
will interrupt with the opponent's scheme of hurting us and surprising us. So it is good
for us, and bad for someone else.
Being hard and rigid by way of
projecting 'determination', 'strength of character' and a steady 'moral grounds' can be
attractive. Conveying the same value by being 'harsh', unnecessarily 'stubborn' and
incommunicative can be repulsive and wrong.
Being soft and flexible by ways of
being 'attentive' and 'supporting' can induce positive cooperation between people. Being
so to the point of indecisiveness and 'lack of spine' is detrimental.
So KARATE, in a way, allows us to study our own strengths and weaknesses, mental &
physical, evaluate what we need to work on, and practice when to apply each one to the
right context. Like many other KARATE values and principals, it is entirely up to us to
then deduce regarding the use of the same issues in other parts of our lives and
The first thing is to realize that
there are no BAD nor GOOD traits in the strict sense, only timely or untimely application
of the right value to the right scenario.
Arigato, Nir Zamir.
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