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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.

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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.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

attitude, indomitable spirit, shisei, Karate, karate-do, do, martial arts, spirit, Tamashi, winning attitude, shibumi

Read more articles by Terry Bryan

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