The Empty of Martial Arts
Gichin Funakoshi changed the name of karate.
It was naha te, which means ‘China Hand.’
He changed it to Karate, which means ‘empty hand.’
There have been all sorts of interpretations
regarding the ‘empty’ in Karate,
and why Gichin did this.
There have also been a lot of interest
in the significance of the word ‘empty’
for the whole martial arts.
I think it is Kenpo that says something to the effect
that no matter if you have a weapon,
I come to you with empty hands.
This is not born out,
because Kenpo, and karate,
and other martial arts
have a lot of weapons.
So what does the word ‘empty’ mean.
Take a look at a sentence from The Tao.
‘Do nothing until nothing is left undone.’
This weird statement of redundancy
and a sort of a ‘double negative’ concept
gives hint to the true meaning.
But to understand the true meaning
one has to study both the hard and the soft.
Study just the hard and you are only studying one half the art.
Study just the soft and you are only studying one half the art.
You have to study both,
then put them together,
then think a lot to figure out the significance
of the word,
of the concept,
you empty the space in front of the punch
so that the person falls into the empty.
That’s easy to understand.
Defines a concept of harmony.
though it is sometimes harder than stuff to make work.
But that is the soft side of empty.
Works for Aikido,
and other arts, and techniques, of that ilk.
and understanding that kind of empty
leads to a lot of hard to explain abilities.
The empty in the hard side of the art is harder to explain.
First you learn focus.
Your whole body becomes rigid with power
but just for a moment.
Before and after…the body is empty.
If the instruction is good,
or the student is unusually smart,
he figures out that he need not make the whole body rigid.
He makes just the fist rigid,
the rest of the body is empty.
I should add at this point,
the mind learns to become empty to make this step.
It is hard to empty the mind,
to focus on one thing (an opponent)
to the exclusion of all else.
But that is what is needed.
if the student happens to be blessed,
he figures out that he need not even make the fist empty.
He can just empty his fist
and stick the sticks of his bones
through the watermelon body of his opponent.
You find out all about this,
and all the necessary drills to make it happen,
in The Punch.
to reach this level you have to understand
a few rather incredible things.
the body is nothing but space…empty.
the universe is backwards.
But I will leave that for another time.
The truth is that,
unless a person has figured out how to make an ‘empty’ punch,
this stuff tends to be very scary.
the subject of ‘empty’
is crucial to the martial arts,
and really needs to be understood
if one is going to get past the pain of bashing,
and into the true sublime nature of the martial arts.
I’ve ordered several courses from you, but didn’t feel like it was time to write in until now. When I first got Matrixing Chi, it didn’t really make sense to me. Then I got The Punch and things started to click. The two flowed together and complimented each other incredibly well. I began to feel energy inside me, and my punches were beginning to pack a bit more power. But it wasn’t until I ordered The Master Instructor Course that things really changed. I began to notice (and fix) mistakes I hadn’t seen before. The most noticeable was the back stance. After correcting it, my punches have become much heavier as I’m able to more efficiently channel energy up my leg, through my arm, and out my fist. ~ Mylan B
“The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”
– Bruce Lee