The Oni – A Karate Poem

oni, martial arts, karate, poetry

Oni are demons recounted in Japanese folklore. Can we fight them, or must we hide in fear?

After training alone in my home dojo this week, I recognized that without consistent practice in kata, I would probably go crazy.  It is a wonderful gift passed down from generation and generation: intricate movements worth mastering that provide self-defense and self-expression.  The focus and discipline honed by performing kata and the catharsis enabled by hard physical and mental training has made me who I am today.  It seems that not many athletes or fighters from other disciplines understand this.

I wrote this poem in honor of my teachers who have given me the skills to protect not only my body, but also my mind and spirit.  I hope to pass along the invaluable lessons I have learned.

Remember that even though we sometimes practice fighting invisible opponents, it doesn’t mean they’re imaginary . . . 


The Oni

Some people think the fighting’s real.
Others laugh while I dance in my pajamas.
But no one sees what I see
–what you will see–
when training in karate.

There are demons all around me–
fights I’ve lost, fights I thought I won,
foes circling, grinning, bearing teeth.

Sometimes, without this ritual, I am weak.
I turn away. Cry out and cover my face.
I am devoured by their past and present adversity.

When I tie my obe and cinch my gi,
it’s a different story.

Without any real arms, I fight.
Battling to keep them at bay,
to destroy some completely.

The struggle never ends,
but it’s what keeps me alive and free.

And that’s what you can’t see.

About moaimartialarts

Lucky enough to grow up with the martial arts, I have felt their positive influence throughout my life and am especially interested in sharing these experiences with others. I enjoy working with youth and adults to give back some of what I've received. If you would like to learn more about Uechi-Ryu/Shohei-Ryu Karate, or if you want to find people to train with, please contact me. I am the head karate instructor for the Meriden Martial Arts Club.
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2 Responses to The Oni – A Karate Poem

  1. Pingback: The Oni – A Karate Poem | Writing & Fighting

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