Sun Tzu, in his classic work, “The Art of War” stated that to be guaranteed victory that you had to know yourself and your opponent. If you only knew yourself, then you might be victorious half the time or if you only knew your opponent then your success rate may only be 50%. We all know that in combat second place or a 50% winning ratio is just not good enough, so knowledge of both our opponent and ourselves is the only viable option.
In classical thinking today, the ideology or the underlying purpose of martial arts training lays in two separate and distinctive camps – those emphasizing karate-do and the ones that think karate-jitsu is the most important way. Proponents of Karate-do spend a lot of time on character development and advocates of karate-jitsu like to think self-defense is the real reason for training. In my humble opinion, it is one and the same, because karate is both.
Understanding your enemy, whether that is a person, an army or even a serious problem can be attained by gathering information, research, and exploration but when it comes to understanding yourself it is much more difficult. We tend not to want to look there. It has been said that your toughest enemy is yourself and that is true. To truly look at yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses is a skill most people have a tough time developing. We either live a life of deluding ourselves that we are better than we really are, or on the other side, listen to all the negative self-talk and put ourselves down. To be able to honestly assess your personal strengths and weaknesses is a skill we should all strive to develop.
Likewise, analyzing a situation, opponent or enemy must also be done without emotion and as honestly as possible. Underestimating a situation or opponent caused many of the great defeats in history. To develop the vision to be able to perceive all the factors and elements of a given situation is imperative. To see the only the obvious and superficial things like most people do is simply counterproductive.
Successful people constantly are evaluating their strengths and weaknesses to determine what they should be learning or studying next. While it is important to know what you are weak in, many times the best solution is to learn to delegate those duties and concentrate on your strengths. Success happens most of the time when you find a niche and become the very best in that niche, not just being adequate in all areas. This process is dependent on knowing your strengths and weaknesses in the first place. This is one of the foundational concepts of “Martial arts mastery.”