I believe Seishin (spirit) to be one of the most important aspects of karate practice. Technique is also important, but if someone has no spirit, their karate is just like a dance, it does not matter how good the technique is, if there is no spirit, there is no karate!
Sometimes your spirit is all you have! Let us imagine a self-defence situation where an attacker knocks you down to the ground, it is your spirit that will get you back up. Check out the quote from the famous boxer Jack Dempsey (The Manassa Mauler).
A champion is someone who gets up when he can't
‘A champion is someone who gets up, even when he cannot‘, that there is spirit!
It’s not just karate, it’s life also! Life is dull without spirit, the spirit to succeed, to finish something that is hard, the spirit to overcome obstacles in your life. It comes in many forms and karate without spirit, is not karate, it is simply dancing or body movements.
I feel that the hard part, is getting the balance. Karate training should be difficult, but also enjoyable. When I was younger, all of our karate classes were extremely hard and ‘More Spirit‘was a common cry from our senior black belts. Today we still have hard parts to our training, the difference is, the really hard parts of our karate classes, do not last the whole class and we take care to balance the hard training with interesting, fun parts.
So for me, spirit is very important, along with the concept of Ikken Hissatsu (To finish with one blow).
My karate sensei used to say, ‘learn to hit hard, fast and accurately’ I believe in this and without spirit, you can not achieve this.
I will just leave you with a quote from the founder of Shotokan Karate, Master Gichin Funakoshi ~