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••• The International Writers Magazine: Sports

Transcending the Bitter Path
• Dr. Antonio Graceffo
Learning life lessons from my Japanese martial arts heroes

The pain of the fight will end when you either quit or win.
The same is true of life.

Oyama M Although I practice Chinese martial arts and have lived and trained in China for years, it seems that most of my classical martial arts heroes are Japanese. I enjoy reading about Kyokushin founder Mas Oyama, and was pleased to find that his creed was similar to my own. Judo founder, Jigoro Kano is another major hero of mine, a school teacher, with a master’s degree who spoke English fluently and who served as a school principal. (Photo: Mas Oyama)

He is regarded as the father of physical education as he was instrumental in making PE a required course in Japanese schools, providing students with two options, kendo or judo. Kano was also instrumental in reviving the Olympics, serving on the International Olympic Committee. Through his efforts, in 1894, when the first modern Olympiad was held, Japan was the only Asian country to participate. Although he did not live to see judo added to the games in 1964, the inclusion of judo was part of his great legacy.

Another great hero is The Book of Five Rings author, Miyamoto Musashi a man who dedicated every waking minute to the perfection of his sword fighting art and who was credited with having killed more men in duels than any other. Late in his life, he retired in isolation and wrote out his philosophy in The Book of Five Rings, a text which made him immortal. To this day, business and military leaders around the world read Musashi’s words in the hopes of emulating his wisdom.

I have purchased, but not yet read A Life in Aikido: The Biography of Founder Morihei Ueshiba, choosing instead to begin reading Karate-Do: My Way of Life, by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate. Both Morihei Ueshiba and Gichin Funakoshi were contemporaries and associate of Jigoro Kano. Like Kano, Funakoshi was also a school teacher. Born to a samurai family, he was pressured into cutting his top knot, in order to take a government job, during the Meiji Restoration. Another connection between my heroes is that Mas Oyama’s karate teacher was Gig? Funakoshi, the son of Gichin Funakoshi. Mas Oyama and Miyamoto Musashi were consummate fighters, while Kano and Funakoshi were academics. The similarities between all of them, however, included constant training, unwavering discipline, lifelong dedication, and later adding to the body of knowledge by writing out their philosophies.

A life of discipline and dedication, hard work and sacrifice, to master your art and then to transcend by adding to the body of knowledge, so that the next generation will go further than the previous one: This is what is best in life.

Read The Wrestler’s Dissertation, by Dr. Antonio Graceffo, available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.

© Dr. Antonio Graceffo, PhD, China-MBA October 2018

Antonio Graceffo PhD China-MBA, works as an economics researcher and university professor in China. He holds a PhD from Shanghai University of Sport where he wrote his dissertation “A Cross Cultural Comparison of Chinese and Western Wrestling” in Chinese. He is the author of 8 books, including The Wrestler’s Dissertation, Warrior Odyssey and The Monk from Brooklyn., and A Short Course on the Chinese Economy. Currently, he is pursuing a second PhD in economics at School of Economics Shanghai University, specializing in US-China Trade, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and Trump-China economics. His China economic reports are featured regularly in The Foreign Policy Journal and published in Chinese at The Shanghai Institute of American Studies, a Chinese government think tank.

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