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Shin Gi Tai - The Perfect Practitioner

What makes a “perfect” practitioner? It may be an impossible goal to strive for perfection, but who better than the Japanese to try to do it? The principle of Shin Gi Tai is used to convey the idea of the perfect practitioner – one who can balance and harmonize the spirit, skill, and body. For our purposes, we are focusing on martial arts, but it can be applied to practitioners of any art.

The character for Shin (心) – also pronounced as kokoro – can be translated as “mind”, “spirit”, or “heart”. In many Asian cultures, these words often refer to the same thing/idea. Shin represents all the mental aspects of training. This would include things such as Zanshin (remaining mind), Mushin (no mind), mindfulness, analytical abilities, and focus. It also includes virtues, ethics, and morals such as patience, courage, and temperance.

The character for Gi (技) – also pronounced as waza – can be translated as “technique” or “skill”. This encompasses the aspects of training that have to do with body mechanics and motor skills. Through practice of the Kihon (basics) and Kata (forms), we can develop skills such as timing, distance management, angling, and accuracy.

The character for Tai (体) – also pronounced as karada – can be translated as “body”. Tai represents the physical attributes that are necessary to execute the movements and techniques in martial arts. These attributes include balance, speed, coordination, power, flexibility, mobility, sensitivity, and stamina.

The convergence of Shin (心) Gi (技) and Tai (体) would create the “perfect” practitioner. The peak of this mountain is far away and there are many paths toward the top. The journey is arduous, and we may never reach our destination, but it is a journey we make regardless.

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