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Shotokan Karate-do : Applications in Corporate Life


By Arijit Chakraborty

In pursuing the long and tortuous path of Shotokan Karate-do, we often experience the value of dedicated practice, the importance of sacrifice and the traits of single minded determination unperturbed by life’s odds, even as we fight our way through performing numerous mae-geri or practicing Bassai-dai kata countless number of times. Shotokan Karate-do is a method of self improvement where the budo-ka pursues excellence and perfection in all his endeavors. The technical interpretations and ‘Bunkai’ , ‘Oyo’ makes us ready for today’s high profile Corporate life, where performance, leadership, vision , alertness and adaptability are the buzzwords.

Shotokan Karate-do, like most of the Martial Arts systems,  improves the internal ‘soft & life skills’ , which are corporate pre-requisites, apart from the external physique and technique:

Ø       mental health.

Ø       social skills, team dynamics.

Ø       Confidence and leadership

Ø       Awareness, and reflex.

Ø       Relationships, networking.

Ø       ability to concentrate and solve problems.

Ø       ability to learn, adapt and motivate

Ø       ability to listen, apply, think quickly

Ø       Ability to pursue ambitious career possibilities. .

In effect Shotokan karate-do enriches and refreshes the mind. We should gain a wider perspective of life. As our health improves we should find that we have augmented energy to do more with our time and resources. As our mind gets richer and brighter we should discover that many more things in life are interesting beyond our normal senses. It’s not unusual for people who have been studying Karate-do for a while to start reading books again or take up a musical instrument or start studying other things. This is the therapeutic effect of serious dedicated study of Shotokan karate-do.

In my journey through life and Karate-do, I have seen many people who have been able to find a new lease of life in their career, family and relationships when they’ve been training for a while because of the alchemy that’s taken place inside. Once again they’ve learned how to learn, how to listen, how to live for others, how to pay attention. Suddenly they can hear what people / mentors around them have been saying to them for a long time, they find that they’ve developed the sensitivity to feel what’s emanating from the mentor or their reporting manager in office. They experience heightened sense of awareness and consciousness. At work they realise what’s been blocking their progression in the corporate ladder is the same thing that has been stopping them from passing that coveted Dan grading! The mentoring process in Shotokan Karate-do means that they have the help to overcome that blockage, whether it’s in their character, health, energy levels or just plain lack of learning, understanding, attitude and practice! That’s where teachers , rather missionaries, of the likes of Sensei Nakayama, Nishiyama, Kanazawa, Okazaki , Enoeda, Asai, Tanaka, Shoji, Yahara, Osaka, Ueki, Abe, Kasuya et all matter to such a great extent. My biggest fortune in life is to live the golden moments of training under the watchful eyes of many of these ‘weaponless warriors’, the indefatigable Samurais from the formidable JKA . I have experienced in my corporate role as an Audit, Systems & Risk Management professional, how this positive attitude pays off rich dividends across boardrooms around the world.

If we stem the flow through ignorance, emotion, cowardice and all the other negative emotions that we are capable of - then our purpose in life remains hidden. When we broaden our outlook and seek wisdom through experience we allow it to flow. The narrower our vision – the more restricted we are. The broader – the more creative and wise we become. This trait can be developed by training under various Masters around the world, to seek what each has to teach. It’s even better if we are able to learn, at our own pace, multiple styles and systems. These augment and ameliorate our own views on corporate life where we face the greatest ‘Kumite’.

When we engage in Shotokan karate-do training, like in all martial arts, we engage in a concentrated form of life. The Dojo is the microcosm with life as the macrocosm. These teachings at the dojo, ‘Shoto’s 20 admonitions’, the Dojo-Kun and all others prepare and temper us well for a successful corporate career.

While Heian kata teaches us the sublimity of peaceful find and sochin teaches us the state of ‘fudo-shin’, bassai shows us when to exert and ‘penetrate the fortress’. Sometimes , we need to become aggressive and demonstrate the power of ten men (Jitte), again we sport a lighter attitude and ‘fly like a swallow’ over tangible and intangible hurdles (Empi). Time and again , we stand like a crane on a rock, ready to pounce on official issues , problems and impasse ( Gankaku), we respond to corporate office politics, provocations from ’24 directions’ ( Niju-shiho), at one moment we are vigorously riding an ‘iron horse’ (tekki) and surging ahead in our corporate endeavours, at another triumphant moment, we look up for viewing the sky above us ( kanku), reflecting on our efforts and direction in career and life. We try and respond to our ever-increasing commitments by employing a variety of ‘high and low positions’ and hope to react timely to the incessant changes in life  - ‘’cloud formations in the sky’’ ( Unsu). Shotokan Karate-do training thus sets us on a path of self discovery as we continuously go on purging and ‘polishing the mirror’ (meikyo) to experience more clarity in all we do in our role as a ‘Corporate Samurai’.

Development is like watching the hands of a clock, we don’t see the changes – others do - and when we do realise how much we’ve changed and improved, we are miles ahead in the corporate battles. Shotokan Karate-do  study is like swimming upstream… if we stop swimming , we just go backwards. It’s an unending quest of continuously ‘keeping the water hot’.

About the author :

Arijit Chakraborty,Yon-dan, is 33 years old and  has more than 28 years training in Shotokan Karate-do under Masters from JKA, JKS, WSKF, ISKF, SKIF and KWF both in India and abroad, he holds  FCA, MBA, CIA ,DISA qualifications specializing in Internal Audit, Assurance and Risk Management, having worked at senior levels with BDO, KPMG and Deloitte, managing and  leading numerous hi-profile consulting engagements.