Take care of your scabbard

09in Karate, one might say the body is the sword while the mind is its scabbard. Drawing the sword harshly with force, thus not following the filigrane details of the drawing motion taught in the schools of Ken, Iai, and Batto, you may destroy the scabbard. First of all, the inside of the scabbard is made of soft material (wood). It protects the sword by its softness. The easiest test of your own drawing motion is turning the scabbard upside down after training and softly knocking it against your leg or the mat on the ground with its scabbard mouth (koiguchi). When wear of friction falls out, you need to pay more attention to your pulling motion. It may be a little granulate only, or whole wood fibers.

Furthermore, as a leverage developes between sword and the scabbard at the scabbard mouth (koiguchi) while drawing, you may even break the scabbard mouth and thus destroy it.

In Karate things are similar in various ways.

For example, think of your body as the sword and your mind as its scabbard. Or vice versa. When being overly harsh in training and application, without reflection and contemplation, you might hurt and injure your joints, tissues, tendons etc., just like the sword damages the INSIDE of your scabbard. You might also hurt and injure others, maybe your training partners or students. That is, those who allow you to “use” them as sword and scabbard for some time.

So use it in a non destructive way. You and your training partner should always be able to maintain the original condition of physical and mental integrity.

As a matter of fact, there is no life whatsoever without advent, expansion, decline, and death. When you are young and become physically stronger, your potential to not only hurt others but also yourself increases immensely. When, then, as a martial artist, you pursue a bestialized mindset, like that of prehistoric man or even animals, or of an ancient “warrior” in murderous frenzy in order to get closer to real combat, you need to secure this modus very tightly to not become an antisocial human being outside of that realm of training. Have a secure lock, a higher “authority” that keeps you in humane modus. Except the very few times you might want and shall act differently over the course of your life. Secure your weapon.

Wheter you’re young or getting older, there is no use in becoming grumpy and angry, there’s no use in becoming a technical animal.

Life is life. It rises, and it falls.

You are responsible for each and any deed.

That’s why you shouldn’t destroy the scabbard.

However, I think you know that you ought, must, and shall sacrifice the scabbard if necessary. But only then.

Detail of Hamamoto Sensei repairing the scabbard. Lets compare sword and scabbard with Karate for a second.

Detail of Hamamoto Sensei repairing the scabbard. Lets compare sword and scabbard with Karate for a second.

© 2014 – 2015, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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