Although fighting styles have existed since the cave-man (which is what we often see on TV), traditional martial arts signifies a specialized training system that has been developed for over 700 years. This advanced training system does not only consist of rigorous physical development and self-defense, but also emphasizes mental and emotional preparation to cope with the daily anxiety of battle and possible death. In times of conflict, martial artists are taught to remain calm and clear-headed without excessive use of energy. In times of peace, martial artists demonstrate exceptional self-control and discipline, as well as leadership skills seldom seen among civilians. In Japan, the samurai developed a code of ethics that solidified their function in society as positive role models. This code of ethics, termed Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, includes the virtues of compassion, justice, self-control and honesty. Bushido describes a lifestyle of excellence in order to train the body to become fit and healthy, to strengthen the spirit to become bold and fearless, and to tame the mind so it can attain inner peace amidst war.
There is no doubt that we live in constant struggle: sometimes it manifests in the streets, but more often we find ourselves battling a school exam, facing an angry boss, reliving past trauma, or feeling apprehension for the future. Emotional education is imperative in reducing mental stress and anxiety that can lead to poor health and hostile behavior. We must be prepared with the appropriate tools and techniques to overcome our fear and negative thought patterns. Traditional martial arts use mind-body practices to focus the mind in order to master emotions rather than be enslaved by them. In doing so, we can remain in-control when faced with difficult circumstances and reduce our risk for exacerbating the situation.
Although similar in theory, Kaikudo differs vastly from the modern MMA (mixed-martial arts) training regimes seen on TV. Unfortunately, many MMA schools have lost the essence of Do, the Way, and lack proper mental and emotional discipline. Modern MMA systems frequently develop without unification of mind, body and spirit. Most fighters don't seem to value the true purpose of martial arts and competition as a means of self-development, not self-glorification. Kaikudo's aim is to teach Bushido, the Way of the Warrior. Competitions are used to enhance the training atmosphere and teach stability of mind in the face of combat, however, winning, ironically, is not the goal. Letting go of the fear of losing is the primary aim.
MMA matches on TV often appear tense, jumpy and incongruent in the mixing of their martial style. At times it resembles the difference between coffee and milk, where each style exists distinct from the other. In Kaikudo, seemingly different styles are not taught as distinctive entities within the art. Kaikudo stirs the solution, eliminating the boundary between coffee and milk. Whether one is grappling on the ground or flying through the air, Kaikudo exists as a cohesive style that unifies the various systems into a single, unified form.
Kaikudo's fluid movements and graceful execution of techniques draw inspiration from the nature of water. With this visualization, Kaikudo seeks to transform the rigid body into a free-flowing system that effortlessly adapts to present circumstances, naturally executing techniques without struggle or resistance. Kaikudo directly translates as "The Way of Ocean and Sky." The ocean and sky move water in a dynamic water-cycle that maintains life on earth. Kaikudo, therefore, is a metaphor that describes "The Way of Water." By reflecting the nature of water during combat, students will find tremendous flexibility and power. This visualization helps to relax the mind and body, thereby maximizing one's reaction-timing and effectiveness in combat.
Kaikudo also uses the nature of water as a visualization tool to enhance ki (or qi)-flow when executing techniques. Ki is vital energy that flows through the body guiding natural processes such as blood flow, breathing and digestion, as well as coordinating dynamic muscle contractions throughout the body when moving. When mind intention and body movement coordinate perfectly, ki-flow is maximized. The visualization of water helps to infuse the body with mindfulness, like water moving through a hose, thereby activating ki-flow during techniques. As a result, tensions in the mind and body will relax and maximize one's reaction-timing and effectiveness in combat.
Approaching conflict with an open mind and relaxed disposition is not only a successful strategy in physical combat, but also in resolving personal struggles and creating positive relationships with others. Over time, this practice will train the mind to appropriately handle daily stress and calm the "inner storm" that often manifests into external conflicts. One will find that this attitude has the profound ability to subdue potential threats before they escalate into an altercation. Knowing how to resolve a conflict before it arises is the true mastery of the martial arts.