敢闘の精神(Kannto no seishin)
不屈の精神(Hukutsu no seishin)
必勝の精神(Hissho no seishin)
Fighting Spirit (敢闘の精神)
Fighting Spirit Attitude
You must feel like you are all alone with a thousand enemies in front of you. You are about to jump into that sea of enemies all on your own with all your might. You must not be afraid of anything. With good kiai (yell), you can let those thousand enemies know who you are by crying out your name before you attack. Let your warrior cry be heard from corner to corner of the battlefield. Let your enemy hear your spiritual energy and feel it reverberate in their gut. This is the fighting spirit from your soul, the essence of your living energy. It is essential to have a good strong voice come out from your hara. Do not yell from your head or throat. It must be done from the core of your living spirit.
It is said that a good kiai (shout) should come from a very calm mind. Experienced martial artist will shout a very loud kiai effortlessly from the tanden (the area an inch and the half below the navel). The kiai is the essence of courage, bravery and fighting spirit mustered from sacred sincerity. It is not just a loud noise or yell.
Original Fighting Spirit
What “Fighting Spirit” is is difficult to understand deeply just through definition. So let me draw another image for you:
Imagine a baby’s cry at the time of birth; upon entering the world that baby will cry out with all it's might, an excellent and original KIAI. This pure and sacred being, untouched from any human influences or circumstance, knows nothing of embarrassment, timidness or consequences of actions. It does not consider other babies and try to cry softly so as not to disturb it’s peers. Every human baby did the same thing, even you. Good cries show a lively spirited baby.
Fighting spirit must show through good kiai first. Good kiai demonstrates a daring, spirited, lively and courageous character. However, without training this physical voice through activities such as martial arts, singing, cheering, etc., we forget how to generate good kiai. When kiai is half-hearted or weak we cannot put forth 100% of our spirit or energy. In other words, it is impossible to do our best. This is a big problem. Ladies especially are often taught to be quiet and act “lady-like”. This is not the way of martial artist ladies. Of course refinement and culture is important to cultivate, but to prepare for times of emergency they have practice good kiai and be able to work in any situation with a sincere valiant spirit.
How to Train Fighting Spirit:
First, you must make the sound of your kiai very loud. So loud you think you might break you’re vocal cord. When I was in my 40s, my martial arts teacher said, “You’re young. Your vocal cord will heal in no time, so kiai double times louder than you are now!” I worked very hard. And though I did not break my vocal cord, I did loose my voice many times through kiai training. But my voice always returned to normal after a few weeks. I remember when I was 7 years old my judo teacher said “Kiai loud! And with your kiai try to break the dojo glass windows.” My kendo teacher would say, “Kiai straight down the earth so that the people on the opposite side of the world can hear you!” The ancient martial artists in Japan always stressed the importance of kiai training. Not merely producing a loud voice, but putting your soul, mind, body and FEELING into the kiai. Then it is not just a sound; it is the sound of your spirit and soul fully alive. Don’t make a kiai superficial with a halfhearted attitude. You will just be making noise then. Instead, try to find your universal potential energy through your sincere spirit. You cannot find this universal-self if you hold onto a halfhearted attitude. You can only find it through giving all you’ve got. Without holding back, put your whole self out there. Abandon small feelings such as embarrassment, doubt, self-consciousness and timidness. GIVE ALL YOU’VE GOT! Only then will you find your true energy. Yes, I know it is not easy master. It needs many years of kiai training with correct attitude to hold onto this feeling at all times. But when you feel any doubt in yourself, imagine the day you were born and how loudly and purely you cried out to the new world. You were brave then. That energy is still in you. You can be brave now too.
(On a side note, I have heard that kiai produces endorphins. Endorphins naturally make your feel good. So strong kiai will make you feel good too! That is science!)
Evolution of Kiai
My kiai has changed from when I was young. During my younger days it was loud, raw and (for lack of a better word) wild. Now after 60 years of training it is deep, placid and settle. My experience is not unique. Many expert martial artists share it.
For serious practitioners, kiai will change naturally through sincere training. (Note: your kiai will not improve if you do not have a sincere feeling behind it. In fact, the opposite will likely happen. You’re character may worsen and you will develop false confidence.) Once you become a master you will understand another level kiai termed the “silent kiai”. Silent kiai is kiai that is not vocalized but rather is internalized. It is not heard, but rather felt by those around you. In order to achieve this level you must go through beginner level training, intermediate level training, advanced level training, then maybe masters level training. In every stage there is always a higher level and you must seek it. Never fool yourself by thinking you have got it or that you completely understand. As you discover higher levels of training, your wisdom will deepen and your soul will feel enriched.
With Fighting Spirit, Find Your Own Way
No one can give you all the answers or explanations; not even your teacher because everybody is a practitioner and no one is perfect. Often teachers make mistakes so you must be aware to catch this. Again, no one is perfect. Your teacher will give you guidance and advice drawn from their experiences so that hopefully by the time you become a black belt, you will be capable of basics skills and have learned how to train. From there, you have to rely more on yourself in order to discover greater skill and deeper wisdom. As you start depending more on yourself, you will face greater challenges and frustrations than ever before. You might even question whether or not you can overcome these things on your own. Whenever you feel doubt or hopelessness creeping into your mind, KIAI!! Remember the strength of your original baby-time kiai. Feel freed from small feelings that shake your self-confidence. Remember, as long as you are alive, you have the potential to improve. As long as you are alive, you can pick yourself up and try again. Live with good fighting spirit.
-to be continued