I had a student…a fairly good student, very intelligent, who once accused me of purposefully pitting siblings together in sparring, knowing full well that they would end up bickering. He was correct. Sadly, his insight ended there.
Sparring for me has one main component. How one carries oneself. It needs to have reciprocal decorum. All too often I’ve seen one side escalate at the expense of the other, in an effort to dominate, and exhort superiority, to satisfy the ego. That’s not the goal of sparring. It might be the goal of fighting…I don’t believe it is, but it’s definitely not the goal of sparring. Sparring is simply an exchange of technique done for one’s partner, not to one’s partner. There’s a sense of giving here. One forsakes one’s self for the benefit of the other, and it is reciprocated. This is sacrifice. This is love. There is no outcome of victory or defeat. Victory comes when both sides can exhibit selflessness and justice.
So yes, I do pit siblings and spouses together because in those relations, the veils of propriety are removed. There is no fake niceties as you’d initially have with a stranger. And yes it’s fake because within 30 seconds the egos kick in and one becomes privy to the uncivilized cock fight that is labeled sparring in most dojos. I digress. With siblings and spouses truth is exposed, so I watch, and I observe to see who can give with love and justice, and who can forgive the occasional lapses by sacrificing their body and ego, whilst being just.
Why do I do this? Because the goal of karate-do for me, is to build myself and my students into characters like my heroes on the plains of Karbala. Study this for yourself, and hopefully you too will come to understand what the peak of eloquence is, and how far we have strayed from the truth. In our modern world we have chosen greatness over goodness….ego over love.