Shuhari tenugui
Shu - Ha - Ri (守・破・離)

One can never get good in Budō

One never gets good, but can try to be better than oneself.

Three words, SHU HA RI, are commonly used in any art in Japan to describe the path of the artist.

Shu stands for the form, shape or anything which is predefined. Once the artist understands the basics of the given art and how to use them.

Ha refers to the ability take freedom of the shape.

Ri is the step when the own way of the art has been created.

Once achieved a black belt in a martial art, the the first step in understanding shu has been taken. This is the moment when many give up as they see how much they actually should learn more, which usually is the whole lifetime. The reason why second grade black belts are relatively much better than the first grade black belts, is usually because the actual studying has started.

Constant studying, training and learning is the key in martial arts.

Often a yellow belt is more confident of the skills acquired than the black belt. Black belt has seen that there is a long way to acquire even a partial understanding of the martial art. Yellow belt who knows already everything might quit soon, once understood how foolish this martial art is with all the small details and requirements.

Same goes with a fresh black belt. Once there starts to be too much egocentric thinking, problems occur and usually end up finishing off the what could have been very promising career in martial arts.

Writing could go on, but the main point is that one can never get good, but one can try to put more effort in becoming better than yesterday.

The true path of purpose lies at the beginning. Once understood all else will follow.

  • Chris Mansfield