Men of Firm Purpose

Is there a limit to man's power? Why can a man's fist break a stone which cannot be broken with an iron hammer? Strength itself is not the answer.

One day I visited Shohkakuji Temple in Nagasaki. The old priest of this temple is the one who had learned the art of Chinese Karate and Zen. This old priest showed me a part of his training practices during my visit. What I saw there was a scene almost dreadful to behold. He put some oil around his hand and thrust it with a yell, into boiling water in a big pot hung over the hearth.

As I was watching it in surprise, he slowly counted from one to ten and pulled his hand out of the boiling water quickly. "Look at my hand." He showed me his hand with a smile; it was not only not scalded but had undergone no change whatsoever. I could never forget the words he mentioned, "You can do anything if you will. Only act with self-confidence."

Man's mental power is great; his body supported by this great power is mysterious beyond solution by science. As far as there actually exists a priest who could calmly put his hand into boiling water [...] it moves our mind as a believable example of the greatness of man's mental power.

The essence of Karate, therefore, is nothing else than a training of mind over body. This is why Karate, capable of such power, should not be used wrongly or violently. The art of Karate seeks for something deeper than simple physical cultivation.

I have tested the limit of possibility for human strength using Karate. As a result of it I have found out that I can easily break thirty piled roof tiles, two red bricks or a two-inch thick square board with one stroke. I can also break a stone weighing over twenty pounds. I have verified that the strength to do these which is called 'superhuman,' is developed by repeated training. And needless to say, it is mental power, surpassing physical strength, which is required for this severe training.

" [...] As the proverb goes, 'Temper the heated iron before it gets cold,' so train yourself in self-discipline before you grow older if you wish to be a great man." The Oriental Confucian maxim is: "First train one's self, manage a household, and then reign over a country." It is essential to train one's self if one wants to administer the affairs of state well.

"The really great man can only be produced through continuous heavy training."

I once had an ambition to become a good politician and after experiencing much doubt and suffering, realized the necessity for power over self. Today, as a man who studies and trains in the martial art of Karate, I feel keenly that a perfect man can be produced only through a combination of culture and physical training.

The affairs of state can only be well administered by the hands of a man self-disciplined mentally and physically. Miyamato Mushashi, a famous swordsman of olden times, once said, "Make yourself familiar with all sorts of martial arts; do not think of greediness, profit or life in tomorrow. Think of nothing but the victory or defeat of today."

There is another saying that a lion runs after a hare to the best of his ability. If a lion must try his best, how much more should the politicians and statesmen give their best to the country they serve.

One famous statesman of the Orient devoted himself to serving his nation without thinking of self-interest or distinction; he even refused to accept peerage and court rank [...] If the statesmen of our time could have such pure minds there would be no unsightly bribery or graft.

To sacrifice oneself, to be selfless, is most important. I believe that true soldiers, true men of martial art, are prepared to give their lives to their first cause, moral obligation - and real statesmen should have the same resolution.

When I, as a man of martial accomplishment in sports, consider my fatherland, Korea, I earnestly believe that a mental revolution of Korean youth is a more burning need of the hour than industrial revolution and cultural elevation.

What is this mental revolution? My expression may sound a little too formal but the mental revolution I conceive of envisions Korean youths who do not try to promote their country simply by ideology or because of their desire for political power. They seek integrity and mental strength through physical training in order to become men of firm purpose to take charge of the future of their fatherland.

Cultivation of character is necessary for this purpose, and both physical and mental training are required to cultivate character [...] Only young men with integrity gained through self-discipline such as comes from the spirit of martial accomplishments can take charge of their country.

[...] I should like to propose the salvation of Korea by human nature trained in this self-denying spirit. I hope that young men of my fatherland will try to gain the self-discipline of mind and body inherent in the martial art of Karate so that the country may be restored to its rightful stature.

[...] It is the mission of us all to give our best efforts for country and for mankind.

[Mas Oyama]
What is Karate?, p.19, 119, 121, 128-30

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