The ancient Zen Masters wrote of a unique warring spirit necessary to carry samurai warriors through battles unscathed. These principles have been handed down through the years to practicing Buddhist monks of the various temples scattered throughout Japan. A fine reference work on "Zen and Japanese Culture" is found in the publication of the same name authored by Daisetz Suzuki. [Suzuki, Daisetsz. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970.]
From this and other works, we find certain principles adaptable to athletes in many sporting disciplines, especially competitive cycling. For example, Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the father of modern karate, established his 20 precepts of Karate-Do. Funakoshi, born in Okinawa, was one of the first Okinawan Masters to teach karate on the Japanese mainland. Following the teachings of Anko Itosu, he founded the Shotokan School of Karate in 1922 in Tokyo.
In reviewing 20 Precepts, the cycling athlete may apply Funakoshi's philosophy to his own discipline to gain a mental edge in training and racing. Those with direct application have been set in bold type (or one may just replace karate with a specific sporting discipline such as competitive cycling).
- Karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy.
- There is no first attack in Karate.
- Karate is an aid to justice.
- First control yourself before attempting to control others.
- Spirit first, technique second.
- Always be ready to release your mind.
- Accidents arise from negligence.
- Do not think that Karate training is only in the dojo.
- Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
- Think of your hands and feet as weapons.
- Put your everyday living into Karate and you will find "myo" (subtle secrets).
- Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.
- Do not think about winning; think about not losing.
- Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
- Wage the battle with natural strategy.
- When you walk out the door, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you. It is your behavior that invites trouble from them.
- Beginners must master low stance and posture; natural body positions are for the advanced.
- Practicing a Kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.
- Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body and slowness and speed of techniques.
- Always think and devise ways to live the precepts every day.
"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants." ---- Gichen Funakoshi