Yudantaiteki (油断大敵)

The founders of all the modern Karate-do styles placed an emphasis on humility and its importance in daily life and training (remember it’s Karate-do, not Karate-jutsu). For instance, the founder of Shotokan, Funakoshi Gichin, wrote:

True Karate-do is this: that in daily life, one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility; and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.

Funakoshi Gichin

Yet despite this emphasis on humility in Okinawa Budo, how many times have we encountered students and teachers so full of themselves that you couldn’t stand being next to them! Ironic isn’t it for an art that supposedly has humility as a central tenet. It’s a sad state of affairs when you encounter such people and the first thing that crosses my mind is that I should get a whole bunch of t-shirts printed-up with the Japanese expression Yudantaiteki (油断大敵) written on the front and start handing them out. But I come to my senses and remember that the crusades ended centuries ago and that it’s impossible to change people’s behaviour unless they want to.

So, why the expression yudantaiteki? Well, it serves as a warning that you shouldn’t be careless in your training, not only the physical, but the mental and spiritual, because even the slightest lapse in attention can lead to unexpected problems. So, when you neglect the mental and spiritual side and over-emphasize the physical aspect of training, you’re being careless, and carelessness should be treated as your mortal enemy. Why? Because there are enough a!x%hole Karateka in the world and we don’t need any more.