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The week leading up to the Sunday had been busier than usual. In addition to the regular busy-ness that seems to happen with the approach of a big holiday (Christmas, in this instance), I had been preparing for my big “test” on Friday the 20th over the past few weeks. The intensity level had been stepped up during the training sessions, extra drills were being performed, and all of us preparing for the “test” were keyed-up for the big day.

For no matter how much you prepare physically for a martial-arts “black-belt” test in your own dojo, it is very tough to prepare for the mental and emotional challenge of “testing” in front of fifty or sixty black-belts who have over five-hundred years of experience between them. It becomes a battle of the body, a battle of the mind, a battle of the spirit. And that is what our style of karate emphasizes – the conquering of those three battles – with the correct blend of balance.

The Spirit of true martial arts has to be benevolence. That is the only way to practice it. – Confucious

So, emerged the theme for our Sunday morning #SpiritChat as I drove back home after my test – the importance of balance in our (spiritual) life – what affects it, how to correct it, how to improve it. However, there is one more integral principle of our style of (Isshinryu) Karate that may come as a surprise to the casual observer, who considers martial artists as “violent”. That principle, which emerges from the tenet that “we pledge to always offer peace first”, is benevolence. The combination of balance and benevolence grounds us, and enables us to focus on the three battles – of mind, body and spirit.

Our twitter chat on December 22nd became a celebration of these two vital traits in our lives – balance and benevolence. I am grateful to all those who participated and contributed – here is the hand-crafted storify summary for the chat – Enjoy!

Kumud

P.S. And yes, I did pass the test – we must have prepared really well, thanks to our 8th Dan coach and mentor, Master Dennis!

Here are the extempore questions asked during the chat – two questions were contributed by the participants – Thank you!

Q1. Here we go. What comes to your heart and mind when you contemplate on #balance #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414759518866653184

Q2. How do we “know” when we are out of balance" Any specific mechanisms for detecting it? #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414761678245732352

Q3. When Is a lack of balance a “negative”? When is it not…? #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414763299834576896

Q4. Moving to Benevolence. What does that word invoke or evoke in your heart and spirit? #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414764856261476353

Q5. Why do we need both balance & benevolence? v/@CreateLiveBe #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414766430463463424

Q6. Too much of a positive can become a negative. Agree or disagree? Why? v/@GregMarcus2 #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414767916567912448

Q7. How can balance and benevolence move from our spirit to our actions? #SpiritChat
http://twitter.com/AjmaniK/status/414769738548383744