Short, concise lessons and concepts helpful to students
Attitude – Shisei
By Terry Bryan
In defining what is the most important element to success in any endeavor,
you would be hard pressed to find anything more important than attitude.
This week we will discuss the basic principles of developing, maintaining,
and demonstrating the proper attitude in order to shorten the process
of goal attainment.
In Japanese, the word for attitude is "Shisei" which is made
up of two kanji meaning shape, forces. In other words it is the attitude
that shapes the forces in our lives. Modern success coaches state the
same thing when they explain that whatever you believe in, with conviction,
will become your reality. It is this process, in which the karate-ka learns
the proper attitude in dealing with conflict and begins to learn how to
display Tamashi or an indomitable spirit. In reality, it is this attitude
that may be more important in victory on the battlefield than specific
tactics or strategies employed.
At the foundation of proper attitude is the belief that you are guaranteed
victory as long as you do not quit. The classic saying "nana korobi
ya oki" or "fall seven times – get up eight", represents
this indomitable spirit or winning attitude. As a student develops confidence
through his martial arts training, he begins to demonstrate this winning
attitude in a variety of ways, including speech, posture and deeds. The
dojo is filled with the sounds of the karate kiai. The kanji for kiai
translates as energy, join or in other words, "come meet my energy."
The student learns how to overcome temporary discomforts on his path towards
victory. He understands that all worthwhile accomplishments come through
hard work and perseverance, and a warrior is the epitome of those qualities.
After all, if it were easy, everyone would do it, and then it would lose
its value. Indeed the warrior attitude is priceless and cannot be bought.
It is only earned through hard work and discipline.
The senior karate-ka learns that all actions have consequences and through
this process he or she learns to predict the actions of others, simply
through the kamae or postures that we maintain. In combat, one never shows
a weakness in his abilities, unless of course, it is a ploy used to pull
an unexpected opponent into an ambush. On a day-to-day basis, the modern
streetwise warrior uses this same tactic of total confidence in every
action. You notice it as they walk across the floor or talk to others.
There is a sense of total confidence and security, hard to describe, but
felt nonetheless. Add to that elegance in action or shibumi, and you begin
to see the proper attitude of the modern warrior.
Most modern self defense coaches understand that criminal acts are more
prone to those who demonstrate a lack of confidence through their nonverbal
communication. They therefore train their students that by working on
their posture and walking with a sense of purpose, they can actually diminish
the possibility that they may be attacked in the first place. In some
cultures, it is believed that if you learn proper posture then your confidence
and attitude will improve. Some believe that if your self-confidence grows
your posture improves. Whichever school you come from, there is a direct
correlation between attitude and posture. Remember that the next time
your Sensei adjusts your body alignment during kata training.
The way you dress, move, talk and even think all define your attitude.
I recently saw a report that several companies were doing away with their
dress casual policies and were asking their employees to go back to suit
and ties. It is amazing to see that during slow times, getting back to
basics and understanding that posture has a direct impact on the bottom
line impacts the business world. I can assure you it is equally important
in your own personal world as well.
Having a proper attitude is not a coincidence. A winning attitude is
the result of doing the right things to produce this result. Like karate,
attitude cannot be learned from a book or from watching a video. You must
find people who have this attitude and surround yourself with them. Attitude
is very contagious and if you hang around people with weak spirits, it
will soon drag you down. On the other hand, if you surround yourself with
people with warrior attitudes, you will share in the process of easier
victories in goal attainment. Having the right attitude is not a specific
goal; it is a process that we work on everyday. You must be diligent in
what you read, what you think, who you spend time with and what you do
on a daily basis.
A proper attitude increases a person's self-esteem and self-confidence,
allowing him to overcome his fears and set higher expectations for himself.
For centuries, warriors have understood that if you show no fear then
your odds of winning in combat go up considerably. A few understand that
having no fear is even better.
About the Author:
Terry Bryan is the former General Secretary for the USA-NKF (National
Karate Federation), the official governing body for the sport of karate
with the US Olympic Committee. He currently is the Executive Director
for the American Black Belt Academy, a 501c3 non-profit organization located
in Colorado Springs.