I currently have an assignment questioning "what is my philosophy?" Needless to say, after 30 years of practice, my life philosophy is centred on Karate-Do: the Way of Empty Hand.
I thought the best means to express this, is by video, as opposed to merely words alone.
Karate-Do as an educative means of human development: Beyond technique, Karate-Do is centred on overcoming oneself through self-realization. The meaning of empty hand is therefore not merely implying that Karate-Do is an 'unarmed' form of self-defence, but rather a vehicle for constantly emptying one's cup to accommodate new, or refined knowledge. Furthermore, contained within this is the development of zanshin or total awareness.
The belt system in Karate-Do is representative of lifetime learning: From white to black belt. Years after attaining the coveted black belt, your belt slowly fades, returning to white. This is symbolic of the never-ending cycle which the Japanese refer to as "Shoshin wasuru bekarazu" which roughly translates as "always maintain a beginners mind". By doing this we further polish our own skills, whilst being more equipped to help others, as fellow learners (what my late teacher Tetsuhiko Asai refer to a being a "permanent student"), and as instructors.
From a broader educational standpoint this is very similar to Paulo Freire’s concept of a lifetime of action and reflection or praxis. Roberts (1998) explains “Knowing for Freire is a permanent process of discovery – of searching, investigating, enquiring and probing” (p. 99).
This is the essence of all forms of human development, and encompasses the essence of Karate-Do; therefore, this is my philosophy.
Roberts, P. (1998). Knowledge, dialogue and humanization: the moral philosophy of Paulo Freire. Journal of Educational Thought, 32(2), pp. 95-117.
© André Bertel, 2011. Christchurch, New Zealand.