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SHIN GI TAI: The Perfect Karate Practitioner — Jesse Enkamp


– Shin Gi Tai. You might have heard about this before. A lot of people online and in
books write about Shin Gi Tai. But honestly, I think too
few people actually apply the wisdom of Shin Gi Tai. Now, what is Shin Gi Tai? I’ll tell you. This is the Japanese sign for Shin which is the first, Shin, and means mind, your mind. Next, Gi and this is not same Gi as what I’m wearing,
okay this is another Gi also known as Waza and it means technique. Let’s just say tech for now, technique. That’s the Japanese sign
if anyone is interested. And then finally, Shin Gi Tai, the third pillar of this concept also known as Karada and this is also known as Kokoro because in Japanese, all of these kanji, these signs, have different pronunciations but for now it’s Shin Gi Tai and Tai, the final one means the physical or the body. Physical. Okay so, what’s the
deal about Shin Gi Tai? Well, Shin Gi Tai
together, all these three will describe the perfect
Karate practitioner or a master so to speak. The idea is that,
whatever we do in Karate, no matter if you’re doing a punch or kick or fighting or grappling or competing or grading, you’re always manifesting and expressing your mind,
your body and technique and the ideal Karate practitioner, the perfect Karate nerd, should have all three of these in perfect alignment. Like this, Shin Gi Tai, a perfect triangle. Now usually, this is not the case. Most of us are either very much in our heads that means, we are strong
in the Shin department or perhaps we are very technical, we are strong in the Gi characteristic. Or maybe we are naturally
gifted with a good physique so we’re very physical that
means, we are strong in the Tai. So, if we are strong in any of these, naturally we’ll be weak in another area which means that the triangle
is not perfectly balanced. Usually, for most people, the triangle will look like this. See that? Shin Gi Tai. It pulls here because it’s
stronger and weaker there or maybe it’s like this. See, it is almost never a perfect triangle for most Karate practitioners. We have a part in Shin
Gi Tai that is stronger and a part in Shin Gi Tai that is weaker. So remember, this is what we wanna strive for. Now let’s look closer at
these three different pillars of Shin Gi Tai. What are some different
attributes of Shin? In fact, we can do like this, Shin. Think about what different
mental attributes or capacities are there and
how can you improve them if that’s what you need. Well for example, maybe we can put a motivation, determination, patience, humility. These are different
characteristics of Shin, the mind or the soul because in Japanese, your soul, your mind, your spirit, all of these and your heart are basically considered the same thing and they’re all written
with the same Kanji. Next Gi, technical attributes. This is perhaps easier to understand, because the technical is
something that we see immediately but we don’t really see our
thoughts or our mindset, right? So technical is, kicks, punches, box, stances, strikes, all of these things that
consist of technique and how you do something
as opposed to what you do and many people are very strong
in the technical department they know exactly how
many degrees your wrist should be in these kinds of things. And then finally we have physical, Tai. What physical attributes are there? Well we got like power, speed, flexibility, mobility, so on and so forth, agility. Okay I’m not gonna write everything. So, now that you have a brief overview over what Shin Gi Tai is, what the goal is to have
them all perfectly balanced and what each of these three include, then here is what I think is
the most interesting thing about Shin Gi Tai. You see, you can use Shin Gi Tai as a high performance assessment tool or as a way to figure out
how to develop yourself or your students and
even how to figure out how to beat an enemy if you
are an athlete, an opponent, using this framework of Shin Gi Tai. So lemme just remove this. So, if you are a Karate
practitioner or student. Practitioner or slash student or if you are a Karate athlete, or if you are a Karate
instructor or teacher then, I think that you
should use Shin Gi Tai as a practical way of
measuring what you are doing and what you should be doing, what you should be focusing on to optimize whatever you wanna achieve
depending on who you are. An athlete wants to win medals,
if you are a Karate athlete. A Karate practitioner or Karate student wants to develop himself or herself and perhaps achieve black
belt or something like that and of course a Karate instructor or teacher wants to
make his or her students better than him or her, right? And we can use the
knowledge of Shin Gi Tai to reach these goals depending
on, no matter who we are. Here’s how I do it. This is a graph, and we
got these three parts: Shin, Gi, Tai, Shin Gi Tai. And the perfect Karateka,
Karate practitioner, whether you are a student,
an athlete or an instructor, you should have all three in balance. Like we said with the triangle, right? However, few of us have all these in perfect order or balance. So what I suggest you do, and this requires a
little bit self reflection or self awareness, I
want you to ask yourself which one of these three, the mind, the body and the technique, is my strongest and which is my weakest? And this is so important for you to know, so that you’re not wasting
your time practicing something you already super good at and ignoring what you’re bad at, because that’s what people usually do. If I am really good in Tai, if I am really good with the body, the physical, then usually I will be bad or not usually but sometimes,
perhaps, in the technical. So maybe my technical is low,
but my physical is super high and my mental abilities
are pretty much average then what I should be
doing is focusing less on the physical and more
on the technical, right? But what usually happens is people who have this kind of disposition, they just try to ignore technical details and cover it up by doing stuff faster and harder instead which
are physical attributes. On the other hand, there
are those who, for example, are really good at the technical. So, we have a lot of the Gi, the technique perhaps to over compensate
because we’re not really good at the physical stuff. So instead of trying to push
ourselves harder, we stop and focus on these tiny details, the angles of certain blocks
and stuff even though maybe, that doesn’t really matter. Of course up to a certain
point it’s important but when we do stuff just
to escape from other stuff and that’s not a good idea. And of course, the same goes for the Shin, the mental capacity as well or attributes. What I want you to do,
after you ask yourself what is my strong part
and what is my weak part? Then I want you to write that down in order, so let’s say, you are really strong mentally you have a champions
mindset a winners mind then Shin should be
your number one, right? And write this down on a
post-it or just a piece of paper and then figure out
what’s your second best, okay maybe you are a good technician so, Gi is number two and then perhaps you’re
not good physically, so, Tai will be number three. Then here’s what I want you to do. I want you to ask a good friend of yours a Dojo mate, a Dojo buddy
somebody from your Dojo perhaps even your Sensei. And I want you to ask them
to write the same for you. So you want them to think about what your strong point
and your weak point is. And here’s the interesting thing, maybe, they don’t write
the same as you do. Maybe they actually
have a different opinion and this is crucial because usually we have an image of ourselves,
a self image, a reality, that doesn’t really align with what people around us think about us and that could be based on stories we’ve been telling ourselves,
since we were kids probably, of our world view, right? So, maybe your Sensei will
write something different or your friend, depending on who you ask. And then, comes the interesting part. If you notice that, well hey, maybe my friend or my
Sensei wrote that actually, my technique is better than my mindset and maybe my mindset is worse
than my physical capacity. Then as you compare
these two notes or lists, you start coming up with things
that you need to practice instead of things that you
think you need to practice. And that’s the important thing because usually as Karate
practitioners or students we don’t really know what’s most important for us to practice. We think we do but, we don’t really. So that’s number one. If you’re a practitioner or
Karate student, what you can do. Then next, if you’re a Karate athlete, you can use the Shin Gi Tai
framework on your opponent. So let’s say, you are fighting
someone okay, for Kumite, and you do the same thing, you do a list but not for yourself because
we already covered that. You should always know yourself but also know your enemy
as the saying goes. So by figuring out if your
opponent is strong mentally, physically or technically, you
know how to beat him or her. And of course, it’s not by
fighting fire with fire. So if you’re fighting someone
who is a great technician, let’s say their technique is exquisite, then don’t try to out-technique them. Instead, strive to focus
more on their weak spot. Maybe they don’t have a strong mind so you can do that psychological warfare that Muhammad Ali or other great
fighters do before a fight. So, it’s important to not
only understand yourself but also who you’re fighting against or who you’re going up against
okay, your opponent or enemy. Depends on if you’re doing it
for sport or for the street. And then finally, instructor. If you’re an instructor or a teacher, you can use the Shin Gi Tai
framework for your students because usually, if we
are Karate instructors, we teach people and we
usually judge people and think that they are like us. Subconsciously, we wanna be objective, we wanna see everybody
but it’s very difficult because we are not logical robots, we are illogical human beings and we have feelings and stuff. So, do this for your students or have them write down what they think is their strong point, their weak point and their medium strong point. And then take their notes, look at ’em, and say hmm, I don’t think this is true because you might have
these juxtapositions, right? One student thinks he
or she is super skilled in one department but you
actually think something else. And then you know what to
focus on or what to practice on when it comes to that specific student. This is especially good
if you have students who are aiming for a higher level and remember the important thing is, not that any of these is particularly high but that they’re all balanced. So you can have Shin
Gi Tai on a low level. Shin Gi Tai, they are in balance, right? Yet they are on a low
level but this to me, is a better Karate practitioner than someone who has one super high but the other low or one
medium, one high, one low. The important part is
to have your strengths and your weaknesses on the
same line and then gradually, if you’re a teacher,
strive to build them up, strive to push down or not emphasize the strong parts and strive to push extra hard on the weak points of your students. And I actually, for my own students, I write this on the whiteboard
and I have them come up and then just assess themselves. And of course, a lot of
people have difficulties being honest with themselves
but for others it’s easy. They know that okay, my
mind always gives up, that’s my weak spot. And then it’s interesting to
see how your group differs and how you can have
subgroups within a group because here’s the interesting part. Let’s say, someone is weak when it comes to Tai, the physical. Or let’s say someone is strong when it comes to Tai, the physical then, what within the
physical is their strong part because nobody is perfect. So even though, a person has Tai or the physical, as their strongest point, there might be weak parts within Tai. So let’s say that when it
comes to the physical stuff, I am really explosive, okay? I’m explosive, I’m fast and powerful but my weakness when it
comes to the physical stuff is my flexibility or my softness or my ability to relax which of course is also
a physical attribute even though it has with the
mind and technique to do also because all of these are
interconnected at all times. So, once you identify your
strong and your weak point, then you should go into
those and see okay, so what within these points can I work on to improve even more, because
even though, let’s say, your technique is your strong point, you might have weak techniques
within the technical aspect. So let’s say you’re
good at doing high kicks but you’re not really good at grappling, that could be a technical problem even though your technique
is your strongest point compared to your mindset
and your physicality. Okay, so that’s it. This is how I describe and apply this Eastern Martial Arts Principle or Philosophy of Shin Gi Tai. And I highly suggest
that you assess yourself so you can determine what
your strong point is, what your weak point is and ultimately, achieve the perfect
balance in Shin Gi Tai, mind body and technique
for yourself, as a student, for your opponent, if you’re an athlete, and for your students,
if you’re an instructor. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions, if anything was unclear, this is actually the first
time I try to explain this because it’s all in my head
from before I wrote this. So maybe, everything is not
easy to understand at first so please let me know if
you have any questions about this or anything
you want me to expand on. Just reply in the email for this episode. That’s it, have a great week, train hard and remember it’s not just
about the practical stuff but also about the theory that’s (speaks in foreign
language) in Japanese the pen and the sword, bye.

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