Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yoko Geri taught me Gyoji

One neat thing about the martial arts is that it has ways of teaching us many lessons that carry over into other areas of life. For myself, Yoko Geri was the teacher. And by the way, Yoko Geri is not the sister of Yoko Ono, but means 'Side Kick.'

Going through the ranks of Karate, Yoko Geri was a thorn in my side. Not only did my training partners break a few of my ribs with it, I had a hell of time throwing a good one. For years it seemed my physical structure was not appropriate for a good side kick. Yet, I persevered...and here is where I learned Gyoji.

Gyoji is a term that has a few meanings, mostly based on it context. For Karate, it means 'continuous practice'. I would frustrate myself in trying to throw a perfect yoko geri and the harder I tried the worse I made it. So, I finally told myself to do just a little bit every day. Gyoji.

I would work on my flexibility, not only with basic leg stretches, but I bought a pulley and some rope and tied my ankle to one end of the rope, looped it through the pulley and pulled my leg up. I would try and go just a bit further higher every time. Even though we were not high kickers, Sensei Dean emphasized some high kicking, because if you can throw a good high side kick, the lower ones are more powerful.

Over the course of a few years and applying Gyoji, my Yoko Geri looked like the one you see in the photo. That is me 32 years ago. I came across the photo a few weeks ago...and surprised myself as to the height and form I had. This from Gyoji...a little bit every day.

Now, I apply this to my other arts, ie, zazen, qigong and, of course, Karate. One of my favorite sayings is "You can't swallow the ocean in one gulp". Same with Karate and other arts. It has also served me in my educational and writing pursuits. They take time, continuous practice and perserverance. The results will show up. Just have faith and enjoy the journey of Gyoji.

Hands palm to palm,


  1. Yes, exactly my experience with yoga, Shinzen. A 15 minute practice everyday got me, gradually, sitting inverted whilst in the full lotus position.

    Also, with meditation, the same principle applied; eventually I had a break through into stillness and present moment awareness.
    Gyoji . . a little every day . . is the principle I teach my children, although they don't always listen, but I just keep repeating it anyway . . . practice a bit every day on a subject and you'll eventually break through your barriers into understanding.

    A great post again, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the validation Doug.

  3. Ha, It's not so much validation Shinzen as appreciation :)