10 Oct
My study of the Goshin-Do Karate-Do style of Shihan Thomas DeFelice is an interesting experience. On the one hand, it is physical, arduous and satisfying all at once. On the other hand, it is a test of one‘s spirit and determination. In an unusual twist, it also offers an intellectual, philosophical challenge. After years of practicing and contemplating the Kata (formal exercises of Karate), an understanding of the manner in which a martial artist responds to an attack was synthesized into an analytical framework. After further reflecting on this analytical framework, I understood that such a framework extended beyond the scope of the martial arts into the realm of daily life. I realized that the framework provides an analytical tool for evaluating one’s response to everyday life challenges. Such life challenges may be categorized as a type of attack upon our well being. Thus, challenges such as important job deadline, unpleasant tasks that require attention, daily interactions and situational confrontations, familial relationships and the like are potential stressful attacks on our sense of well-being. By understanding the manner in which we respond to such scenarios, we can seek to improve our lives. The model for improvement can be found within the following framework.
In the martial arts, once your opponent attacks, you have the following choices:  
1. GO NO TE (After, later-hand): blocking the opponents attack, no counter attack.                                                                                                                                            2. GO NO SEN (after, later-before): block & counter attack.                                 3. SEN NO TE (before-hand): block and counter attack are in one movement(simultaneous).                                                                                                    4. SEN SEN NO TE (before-before-hand): Attacker starts to move, but defender beats opponent to the attack. Defender intercepts the attack; no blocking is done.                                                                                                                       5. SEN SEN NO SEN (before-before-before): defender reads the opponent’s intention to attack and attacks first.

In essence, the above describes three broad spectrum responses to an attack: block and counter (1,2,3), interception (4,5) and evasion (involved potentially in all the above). These three general categories can be used to analyze your response to any given challenge that life lays before you. We can imagine any number of challenging scenarios derived from the work environment, familial relationships, and normal daily interactions. There are an infinite number of challenges we encounter that require our attention, action and resolution. To facilitate our understanding of the mechanics by which we confront and address these challenges, we can look to the above stated martial conflict resolution framework.

In the case of a scenario described by the martial arts concept of block and counter, it is understood that the concept involves a direct approach to the challenge. Using the block and counter concept, one does not act until such a time as the challenge presents itself, is encountered and demands immediate, swift resolution. In this scenario, time is of the essence. Once encountered, you must aggressively meet the challenge resolutely (the block). During this stage, you would perceive and evaluate the challenge, the consequences of various responses and decide upon which response is appropriate. You would then execute the appropriate response (the counter). The block and counter approach is immune to physical, spiritual or mental discomfort that may be encountered during the resolution of the challenge. That is to say that once the challenge has manifested, it must be directly resolved regardless of one’s physical, mental or emotional discomfort.

The case of a scenario described by evasion is somewhat misleading. The name does not imply that you avoid your responsibility to resolve the challenge. Rather, evasion means that you do not take a hard, direct approach to the challenge. In the evasion approach, you would read the challenge as it begins to manifest itself. You would act prior to the challenge reaching the stage where it must be resolved at all costs. The critical difference is the block and counter mandates immediate and direct action at the time the challenge already presents itself and has reached a critical stage. The evasion scenario calls for action at the very instant the challenge first manifests prior to the critical stage. It is at this moment that the resolution of the challenge may be address or deferred to a later date. The key is to address the challenge prior to the resolution reaching a critical stage. You have therefore evaded and mitigated the harsh impact of resolving the challenge at all costs.

In the case of the interception concept you will have anticipated that the challenge would manifest itself and seek to resolve it before it even becomes a challenge. Thus, you anticipate and address a situation before it is even born. Thus, a challenge never really existed in the first place.

In Goshin-Do Karate-Do, there is a protocol called “Bunkai.” Bunkai is the practical application of Karate technique. Let us examine on example of Bunkai using the analytical framework. Imagine that you have just woken from your sleep and are about to start a very hectic day. You have to help the children prepare for school, insure that they safely arrive at school and then go to work where you are expected to deliver a very important presentation. As you walk into your kitchen to make coffee and try to fully awaken, you notice that there is a small puddle of water on the floor below the sink. Upon further examination, you discover that a pipe located in the cabinet below the sink has ruptured and is leaking water. In the block and counter scenario (GO NO SEN), you immediately turn off the water supply to the sink so as to stop the leak and begin to mop up the mess. These actions represent the “block.” You then see that the children are prepared for school and make travel arrangements for them. Simultaneously, you locate a plumber and make arrangements for an emergency repair later in the day. After telephoning work to advise them you may be delayed, you make arrangements with a neighbor to provide the plumber access to your home and leave for work. Thus, the “counter” has been executed. At the end of the day, and after giving a successful, but not quite the best presentation, you arrive home and discover that the repair has been successfully completed. Although you are tired from the extra stress of the day, the children need help with their homework. You also contemplate the plumber’s invoice which is rather expensive given the nature of the emergency. Thus, the situation has been resolved, but the resolution has taken a toll on your well being. 
The evasion scenario (a hybrid of SEN SEN NO TE & SEN SEN NO SEN), would have provided a less stressful resolution. In this scenario, prior to the above fateful date, you would have noticed the problem before it became critical. Perhaps you would have been rummaging through the cabinet under the sink and noticed that the pipe was corroded and wet to the touch. You would then call a plumber and schedule a mutually satisfactory appointment so that the situation can be diagnosed and resolved.
The interception scenario (SEN SEN NO SEN) encapsulates the idea that prevention is the best medicine. You would have understood that you live in an older home with original plumbing. One day, you open the cabinet. You notice that the pipe is somewhat discolored and starting to corrode. You appreciate that it is prudent to call a plumber to arrange a convenient appointment to resolve the potential problem. Thus, the cost of the repair in terms of money is cheaper than an emergency repair. In terms of well being, the cost is less stress encountered.

  The next time you are confronted with a challenge, take a moment, and analyze your response to it. I believe you will learn something about your self and benefit from such experience.

Until the next article, I remain enveloped in my study of martial sciences, in a state of SEN-SEN-NO-SEN,



 Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do
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