Indomitable Spirit - Are we invincible, or what?

Explorer

Blue Belt
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sorry for the length of this post ... it's an exercise I did some time ago and would like thoughtful comments ... thanks.

--------------------------------------------

In the world of martial arts there is frequent mention of the spirit/mind/body triangle; lots of talk but precious little clarity. If pressed, most of us could come up with adequate definitions for the mind and body portions of the equation, but I believe we’d be hard pressed to define the role of ‘spirit’ – particularly ‘indomitable spirit’ – in our arts.

The obvious question to ask here is …”Why?” Why bother to delve beyond the sport or self-defense applications of our arts? Why go deeper than technique takes us? Like many other activities martial arts can be seen as a small representation of life. Many times we discover that the best stuff isn’t where we expected to find it when we began.

For instance, I knew I would love my kids when they were born. It’s a natural response to the arrival of a new life. What I didn’t expect was to find out how much I liked my kids. Just being in their presence, witnessing their small and large successes and failures; to take and active part in mentoring them is a burden so light and full of joy that I can’t begin to convey how privileged I feel to be a part of it.

Similarly, when I began training it was all about me. What I wanted to know, what I wanted to learn, how good I could be. Now that I’ve been an instructor for some time it’s all about providing our students with everything they need. That change in perspective is why I believe it is imperative to move beyond ego to something that transcends mere technique. I believe the study of martial arts ultimately brings us face to face with ourselves and our place in the universe. If we approach the internal art with the same focus and determination as we bring to the external art how can we not become better people, better teachers, better friends, parents, communities?

This thesis is an attempt to begin the discussion of how we might define indomitable spirit. It is merely a jumping off point, not a destination. Each martial artist must examine and weigh how the definition of indomitable spirit might affect them. It is an internal workout that can yield positive results if one is so inclined.

It is true that some of the great masters have attached the spirit side of the triangle to Zen. The word spirit is often attached to religious belief or conviction. This type of spirit could be referred to as ‘eternal spirit’. While I believe that the sincere martial artist will eventually be led to eternal questions, I don’t think this is the kind of spirit referred to by the masters when they use the term indomitable spirit. It seems they are referring to a state of mind or attitude that can be described in terms other than religious.
Some have interpreted indomitable spirit – fudo shin in Japanese – as a property that allows us to accurately see what must be done and gives us the persistence to see the task through no matter what. Fudo shin is seen as the key that unlocks our unlimited potential. This is the point at which I think the interpretation hangs a left and veers off course. From here indomitable spirit becomes the rough equivalent of invincible warrior and I am not convinced they are the same thing.

Some of the great problems we face in interpretation are language barriers between east and west. Translations between these languages aren’t as simple as one might assume. The languages are so different that direct, literal translations are nearly unintelligible. It’s like trying to read an Apple computer’s hard drive with a Windows based PC. Translators are stuck with the job of interpreting the central meaning of a given text often without the luxury of interviewing the original author. Over the years they have met with greater and lesser successes. Often times, a number of translations are required before the rendered text begins to accurately convey the essential message in its new language.

Language barriers often reveal themselves as terms that a people with shared experience interpret the same way. Imagine how the American term “…hang a left…” might sound to someone with no knowledge of colloquial English. Two questions come to mind; what did this left do to justify capital punishment and exactly what kind of rope might one hang the aforementioned left with? We have a similar problem with concepts coming from east to west. Often we don’t understand the deeper meaning in the turn of a phrase and are, therefore, denied the essential intent.

Then we have the problem of interpreting the interpretation. This is like playing the ‘Telephone Game’ where one person whispers a sentence into the next person’s ear. By the time the sentence moves through a room full of people it often doesn’t even mean the same thing anymore.

While context gives us some idea as to what indomitable means, it is instructive to see what the dictionary says ”…Incapable of being overcome, subdued, or vanquished; unconquerable.” Many have interpreted this definition to mean that one who possesses indomitable spirit is unconquerable. Does having indomitable spirit really mean one is incapable of being defeated? Probably not. As I mentioned before, having an indomitable spirit isn’t the same thing as being an invincible warrior. I believe the concept of the invincible warrior has been superimposed over the term Indomitable Spirit giving us a muddled interpretation.

Movies and TV as well as stories passed down from teacher to student regale us with tales of the invincible warrior. The incantation that propels our hero goes something like this: “…fight with honor, and you will win”. Let’s take a closer look at this idea. One can assume at least some Japanese soldiers during WWII were imbued with indomitable spirit. Despite the aims of their military dictatorship they fought with honor yet Japan eventually lost the war. The force of technology and numbers overcame indomitable spirit.

For that matter, we’ve all known great fighters who lost matches despite having indomitable spirit. I think, sadly, of the time a few years ago when a young Tae Kwon Do champion was killed by someone who hijacked his car and stabbed him with a screwdriver on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s easy to see that great skill and/or supreme confidence doesn’t always amount to invincibility. Moving from the battlefield to business, we can all find examples of honorable business people who have failed.

The key to clearing up our thinking is in the term itself; Indomitable Spirit; there is no mention of invincible warrior. I believe superimposing invincible warrior over indomitable spirit does a great disservice. For clarity’s sake another term must be found to more clearly define what we mean when we say indomitable spirit in order to separate it from invincible warrior.

As an aside, it is important to remember victory and success can be defined in a number of different ways. There are such things as small victories, moral victories and ethical victories which may be revealed in inverse proportion to winning or losing in a contest be it school, sport or business. Internal victories may not be measured by the same standards as external victories.

For instance, one student cheats to come out ahead in a contest while another refuses to cheat and loses. Who really won? The person who uses fraudulent means to ensure external victory may gain another “W” for their win column, prizes, accolades and/or money, but by sacrificing virtue for an external victory the cheater has diminished their spirit. In essence, the act of taking a short cut to victory has rendered the cheat less capable of negotiating life at large. Many personal and societal ills could be traced to taking a short cut instead of following the true path. By not seeking the true good, the entire person is diminished. The reverse is true for the honorable student.

Also, the relative values of internal and external victories change as the circumstances of the contests change. In a self-defense situation, where someone is applying unlawful force to another, the external victory for the defender is paramount. That being said; I would suggest that if we have done our internal work properly we give ourselves a better opportunity to recognize trouble before it becomes a physical contest and are more able to take early steps to prevent a violent confrontation altogether.

So, what are the attributes of this internal indomitable spirit? It seems to me the indomitable spirit never gives up on itself; it knows there is always more to learn and better ways to apply knowledge. Another way to say it might be ‘Unquenchable Spirit’. This is the spirit that always strives for virtue – no matter the won/loss record.

The obvious next question is how can we acquire indomitable spirit? One way is via ”…the ecstasy of sweating in the dojo” as Shoshin Nagamine, the great Shorin Ryu sensei, puts it; by committing ourselves to excellence, self-discipline and thoughtful consideration of all aspects of martial arts training.

This requires us to go beyond simple technical training. We must dig deeper to consider the mindsets of attacker and defender. We must commit ourselves to researching techniques that will function in the real world and not give up until we have. Moreover, we must consider the telltale signs that warn us of trouble and take action that will prevent a violent encounter.

The indomitable spirit may not result in an invincible warrior. But it can be a catalyst for positive change in us. It can help us see what needs doing and give us the fortitude to finish what we start. The indomitable spirit; the unquenchable spirit expects the best, works for the best and never give in to hopelessness. Perhaps the indomitable spirit; the unquenchable spirit is the spirit of hope.

Thoughts? I’d love to hear them.
 
OP
Explorer

Explorer

Blue Belt
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Yeah, I know ... I just got going and stopped when I was done. Perhaps a better post would've been.

What do you think "Indomitable Spirit means?"
 

Jenna

Senior Master
MT Mentor
Joined
Apr 30, 2006
Messages
3,470
Reaction score
713
Location
Cluj
Explorer said:
Yeah, I know ... I just got going and stopped when I was done. Perhaps a better post would've been.

What do you think "Indomitable Spirit means?"
Hello Explorer :) yes a decent and good article but your laconic rephrase does help too!!

I believe there are two diametrically opposite situations that can QUICKLY produce the indomitable spirit. In the first, the person exists in an environment familial relational emotional and maybe even work, which encourages them through difficult challenges pushes them to better themselves even amidst many failures andpromotes a sense of unbreakability in the person that NATURALLY forges itself into the indomitable spirit.

In the second situation the person is put down at failure points is belittled for opinion is forced into isolation or taken away from stability one way or the other. The indomitable spirit here arises NOT through any natural process but against the flow and like the phoenix from its own ash. It arises through an instinctual desire to survive and I think this indomitable spirit it is slower to reveal itself as such than the first case. People in this second situation are hardest toconvince themselves.

In fact if you ask me the unbreakable spirit is in every one of us. Some know it and use it well when it is needed for some they are blinded to it and for others they do not wish to have it peculiarly preferring languishing in misery instead and I think sometimes we exist with this spirit and it sustains us whatever our state even though we do not acknowledge it or give it a name.

I am not certain how on or off topic this is but, well maybe it makes some small sense.....

Yr most obdt hmble srvt,
Jenna
 

Ceicei

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Apr 23, 2003
Messages
6,775
Reaction score
85
Location
Utah
Explorer said:
So, what are the attributes of this internal indomitable spirit? It seems to me the indomitable spirit never gives up on itself; it knows there is always more to learn and better ways to apply knowledge. Another way to say it might be ‘Unquenchable Spirit’. This is the spirit that always strives for virtue – no matter the won/loss record.
I really love this paragraph, especially the part "indomitable spirit never gives up on itself."

Jenna said:
In fact if you ask me the unbreakable spirit is in every one of us. Some know it and use it well when it is needed for some they are blinded to it and for others they do not wish to have it peculiarly preferring languishing in misery instead and I think sometimes we exist with this spirit and it sustains us whatever our state even though we do not acknowledge it or give it a name.
I have to agree with Jenna on this one. The hard task, sometimes, is for the instructors to help their students find and strengthen that "unbreakable spirit".

I am lucky that I do have an excellent instructor now who knows how to get me to draw it out. Yes, I've always had this quality in me, but it is not always obvious, as you've said. Thank you for your excellent points.

- Ceicei
 

still learning

Senior Master
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
3,749
Reaction score
42
Hello, The Indomitable spirit....something to strive for in our own lives. this is a very positive thing for the mind.

There will always be someone stronger,faster,smarter,quicker,and so on. You can train for decades and be kill crossing a street.

The Indomitable spirit will lead to your own success and for you only. It is in our own minds and can never be taken away? ..unless you give up.

Invincible only in our own thoughts...that we never give up..never stop striving to be better than before.

Use it wisely,..the indomitable spirit..for the soul. It is in all of us..find it and keep it and use it wisely...............one day you will find the true answer..........Aloha
 
OP
Explorer

Explorer

Blue Belt
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wow,

You guys are very sweet and nice to have read that ... very long article. Thanks.

CeiCei has struck home with her insight ... As an old instructor I often find concepts like this difficult to present to my younger students. It seems that life experience has something to do with having enough patience to sit down and think these things through. Then again, sometimes a youngster will surprise me with thier wisdom.

Jenna -- good points. Intomitable Spirit can be revealed via nurture or survival instinct.

I suppose each person must discover their indomitable spirit in their own way for it to be authentic. How then can a simple instructor help?
 

Cirdan

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
2,494
Reaction score
440
Location
Oslo, Norway
Explorer said:
I suppose each person must discover their indomitable spirit in their own way for it to be authentic. How then can a simple instructor help?

Provide challenging training and an atmosphere of respect. The rest is pretty much up to the student.
 

Ceicei

Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Apr 23, 2003
Messages
6,775
Reaction score
85
Location
Utah
Cirdan said:
Provide challenging training and an atmosphere of respect. The rest is pretty much up to the student.

Yes, the study of martial art(s) can a journey of self-discovery....

- Ceicei
 

Nomad

Master Black Belt
Joined
May 23, 2006
Messages
1,206
Reaction score
54
Location
San Diego, CA
Indomitable Spirit is the warrior who is knocked down seven times and gets up eight. It has nothing to do with being invincible, and is all about not being defeated.

You can lose many battles without ever being defeated... that only comes from within when you give up on the fight itself.
 
OP
Explorer

Explorer

Blue Belt
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Indomitable Spirit is the warrior who is knocked down seven times and gets up eight. It has nothing to do with being invincible, and is all about not being defeated.

You can lose many battles without ever being defeated... that only comes from within when you give up on the fight itself.

So, an indomitable spirit never gives up on itself. I would say this apply's to all aspects of our lives ... not just the martial. Nice.
 

Last Fearner

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 21, 2006
Messages
712
Reaction score
17
WOW!!! And I thought I posted long replies. lol

"Indomitable Spirit" means and undefeatable "spirit" not an unbeatable person. An "invincible warrior" might be the result of having an indomitable spirit, but it is not a guarentee. We know the dictionary definition of "indomitable," so how do we define "spirit." As stated earlier, this term is often understood as a state of mind, but it is derived from the very thing that we might think this has nothing to do with - The Eternal Spirit.

In Taekwondo, we have Tenets (rules of moral conduct) to live by. My school teaches these five:

Courtesy
Integrity
Perseverance
Self Control
Indomitable Spirit

Often times, I hear instructors explain "Perseverance" as never giving up. The idea of "get knocked down 8 times, get up 9 times." Then, when they come to the term "Indomitable Spirit," they are hard pressed to come up with a different definition. They often say this means to "never give up - no matter what the odds are against you." Sounds a lot like their definition of Perseverance.

For me, Perseverance is the "decision" to not give up; "Indomitable Spirit" is the "motivation" that keeps you going. It is the will power, or spiritual energy, that fuels the body to accomplish the decision to not quit. When all the physical energy is drained, and you feel like dropping dead, you might not want to quit, but you have nothing left to give - the "Indomitible Spirit" lifts you up, motivates you, and makes you realize you can survive, you can succeed, and you can overcome.

I remember an old cartoon poster of a small dog fighting vigorously with a huge dog. The caption read, "It's not so much the size of the dog in the fight, as the size of the fight in the dog." I believe this is one way to express "Indomitable Spirit." You can decide you are not going to quit something, but if you continue with a defeatist attitude, and a poor disposition, you are likely to fail.

Indomitable Spirit keeps you smiling, :)

keeps you positive, :ultracool

and lifts your spirit as well as your flesh. :angel:


This is my interpretation.
CM D. J. Eisenhart
 

Brother John

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 13, 2002
Messages
2,530
Reaction score
58
Location
Wichita Kansas, USA
What does "Indomitable Spirit" (Fudoshin) mean to me?

My grandfather!!! But since I can't just introduce you to my late Grandfather and it'd take far too long to describe him with any justice to truth...
Here's what I think comes close to "Indomitable Spirit", it's a poem called "IF" by Rudyard Kipling....and it's one of my favorites:

If
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
I
f you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


Your Brother
John
 

still learning

Senior Master
Joined
Nov 8, 2004
Messages
3,749
Reaction score
42
Nomad said:
Indomitable Spirit is the warrior who is knocked down seven times and gets up eight. It has nothing to do with being invincible, and is all about not being defeated.

You can lose many battles without ever being defeated... that only comes from within when you give up on the fight itself.

Hello, Great way to say it! ...this is good " knock down seven times and get up eight" .....will share this with the class! .......Thank-you and Aloha
 

Last Fearner

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Jan 21, 2006
Messages
712
Reaction score
17
still learning said:
Hello, Great way to say it! ...this is good " knock down seven times and get up eight" .....will share this with the class! .......Thank-you and Aloha

I don't know where others have heard this saying, but it is the underlying philosophy in Jidokwan Taekwondo. I am currently with the U.S. Chung Do Kwan, but I spent about 15 years training with Koreans who were Jidokwan Grandmasters.

The Jidokwan symbol contains two red circles in the center that look kind of like a red snowman. The philosophy I was taught was, besides the common meanings of these circles, this emblem also represented the old striking dummy that would fall down and bounce back up (like weebles). At the end of the day, many people had kicke this dummy thousands of times. The students would drag themselves out of the dojang, barely able to walk, but the Jidokwan striking dummy would still be there standing. The philosophy, "get knocked down nine times, get up ten" (or whatever numbers you wish to apply) refer to this notion of perseverance.

Here is a site that shows the emblem and describes its meaning (I was not affiliated with this particular school):
http://walkerstkd.com/jidokwan.html

CM. D.J. Eisenhart
 
OP
Explorer

Explorer

Blue Belt
Joined
May 21, 2006
Messages
234
Reaction score
4
Location
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Brother John said:
What does "Indomitable Spirit" (Fudoshin) mean to me?

My grandfather!!! But since I can't just introduce you to my late Grandfather and it'd take far too long to describe him with any justice to truth...
Here's what I think comes close to "Indomitable Spirit", it's a poem called "IF" by Rudyard Kipling....and it's one of my favorites:

This piece never fails to bring me to tears. Excellent. I think it also speaks to humility, dignity and grace.
 

green meanie

Master Black Belt
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Messages
1,112
Reaction score
5
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
Brother John said:
What does "Indomitable Spirit" (Fudoshin) mean to me?

My grandfather!!! But since I can't just introduce you to my late Grandfather and it'd take far too long to describe him with any justice to truth...
Here's what I think comes close to "Indomitable Spirit", it's a poem called "IF" by Rudyard Kipling....and it's one of my favorites.

Mine too. Thanks for that Brother John, it's deeply appreciated. :asian:
 

Latest Discussions

Top