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Attitude – Shisei

In defining what is the most important element leading to success, in any endeavor, you would be hard pressed to find anything more important than attitude. Today 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 was 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 unsuspecting opponent into an ambush. On a day-to-day basis, the modern street wise 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 instructors understand that criminal acts are more apt to happen to those that demonstrate a lack of confidence. This is demonstrated in nonverbal communication and therefore we train our students to improve posture and affect. Walking with a sense of purpose can actually diminish the possibility that they might be attacked in the first place. In some cultures, it is believed that if you learn proper posture that 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 more formal business dress. It is interesting to see a getting back to basics and the understanding that posture and dress has a direct impact on the bottom line in 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 that produce this result. Like karate, attitude cannot be learned from a book or from watching a video. You must find people that 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 every day. 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 a person to overcome his fears and set higher expectations for themselves. 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 showing no fear in life is even better.

Happy Training. Hanshi Ader

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