Master Shigeru Egami’s Karate, the Shotokai School

One of the main contribuitions of Shigeru Egami is to have analysed the fundamental problems that karate practice develops and having tried to answer them through a systematic research. This text from 1970 illustrates his views in a very clear way.

Is Karate a technique for killing? Master Funakoshi always thought us that in karate you never attack first and that it is necessary to go to the encounter of nature through the body and spirit. However, some decades ago, when I once again met one of my former karate colleagues, he said: “What? You still continue creating killers?” These words suffocated me in surprise. Judging by what he said, you’d have to admit that there were people that thought like him. Rejecting his opinion, it was very hard to persuade myself otherwise. Even though it may be said that karate is a budo or hyoho (art of strategy) that is a spiritual training, is this not just a hypocritical justification for techniques simply designed to break heads and to kill?

Every time I have been encroached by this doubt, I myself have said: “No, it is not possible… it is impossible”. But I have had to recognize the profound lack in the karate practice of our time and the training methods and the understanding of the meaning of kata.

I went through periods of anguish, mental torture that were a bloody fight against myself and I ended up understanding that it is heiho, the method of peace that originates from Japanese culture. When I understood the way of heiho, the way of the method of peace, I was filled with an emotion that made my whole body tremble with happiness. Today the way of karate has lost its quality and has degraded to the point where it can be classified as training for killing. I must contribute to redirect it towards a real way (do), the way of karate; this is what master Gichin Funakoshi wanted to teach us. I believe this is my only calling because I am a follower of the way of karate.

Heiho, the peace method, teaches us to truly live beyond life and death, to live a truly magnificent life. How must Karate-do, the method of peace, heiho, be? How must I act to qualitatively transform combat technique into the peace method? How must the body techniques be? How must I confront the spiritual aspects?

Day after day I trained investing my life to answer these questions. I trained polishing my life so every day I exceeded the training from the day before. I lived profoundly day after day without letting myself be led astray by the thought of tomorrow, retaining my thoughts here and now.

Thanks to my master, his predecessors and my students I was able to get close to the techniques I was searching for. If someone now asks: “Are you still creating killers? I can answer: “No”, with complete conviction. I clearly know the direction I must follow until my vitality has been consumed completely.

Us, the mediocre men, have to walk every step held up by the true friends until you can reach the final state of the way. I, that always tried to win, have once and again lost the battle with life, have reached that understanding. It is a way that has been followed by the Japanese, with a truly Japanese spirit, the original spirit of the Japanese.