News: Monkey See, Monkey Do

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Chi gyo ichi nyo is a familiar expression in the dojo. The word chi means knowledge. Gyo means doing, or action. Ichi nyo means inseparable. Action and knowledge are one! Acting without adequate knowledge or understanding is a constant source of frustration and problems. In our lives we are often busy and active without really understanding the basis of our actions and their full impact. Some people practice karate without really knowing why they are training. In class they do the techniques without understanding their purpose, and so they lose much of the benefit." 

Mindless, conditioned behavior occurs everywhere in our lives. A single person, or an organization, can act mindlessly. Patrick McCarthyhanshi, and author of many books about the origins of karate, offers a useful parable describing the process of mindlessness and the dangers of leaving conditioned behaviors unexamined.

"Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage hang a banana on a string from the ceiling and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the monkeys with ice-cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the monkeys are sprayed with ice-cold water. Pretty soon, when yet another monkey can't resist trying to climb the stairs, all the other monkeys aggressively try to prevent it.

Now, turn off the cold water, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and immediately wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. He tries again and is attacked again. He realizes that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer too, takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Replace a third monkey. The process will be repeated. Two of the four monkeys attacking the new member have no idea why they're not allowed up the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Why not?

Because as far as they know, that's the way it's always been around here!"

Chi gyo ichi nyo. Develop both the will to examine your assumptions and the courage to discard erroneous beliefs. Karate-do encourages the student to examine their assumptions about life. Moreover, true karate-do IS the experience of a mindful life. Where karate and zen come together, mind and action are one and the same thing. Ken zen ichi nyo. Sword and mind are one! So say the masters. This is not something to believe. Its something to experience. Practice is essential. Gambatte kudasai. See you in the dojo. Osu!

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