My foray into the underbelly of kimura shukokai karate holds surprising contrasts. The latest instruction hurled at me from across the tatami was to be ‘soft like water’. For those who don’t know – and let’s face it, why would you – shukokai is a full-contact, explosive form of karate which means to confront with “devastating power” rewarding karateka for acceleration and impact. (A feat I’m yet to achieve.) So you can understand why that particular directive baffled me.

After contemplating it for a bit, here’s what I think:

To be soft like water means to trust your intuition. It means to move confidently and not over-react. It means to keep the game alive, to not block the energy of your partner but to redirect it.

To be soft like water means to do the things your heart is asking of you, to follow the path you’re most inclined to, and move to the graceful rhythm that is inwardly calling you.

To be soft like water means to release the tension that inevitably clutches at you and unhook from expectation. Theirs and yours.

In other words,

To be soft like water means to be at one with everything, but at the same time stay detached.

That’s when we’ll tap into our devastating power.

Or at least that’s how I understand it.