INDOMITABLE SPIRIT (Baekjul-Bool Gool) Indomitable means unconquerable, unbreakable, and unquenchable. To put it simply, it means that one has such strong unshakeable beliefs and principles that even sacrificing the most precious possession one has, one’s own life is not too high a price to pay in defending them.
This is one of the Five Tenets of Tae Kwon Do, which today took on new meaning to me in a way that can potentially aid all JET’s, even those who do not practice Martial Arts.
Recently, Ishikawa was hit by a typhoon. Now, me being the relatively impulsive person I am, thought “hey, I didn’t practice any Tae Kwon Do or Kendo for the past 2 days, I got to do something about this.” Promptly leading me to throwing on my running shoes and starting my usual 8km run from Ukawa to about Flatt’s Bakery and back. What I didn’t count on was the typhoon hitting Noto-Chou (and by that I mean Ukawa/Ushitsu area) full blast a good 12 hours before it was expected to. I was pretty much left running the last 5km with an inch of water coating the road and raindrops the size of marbles pelting me in the face taunting “idiot idiot idiot who goes running on the ocean coast during a typhoon“. It was just me, myself, and nature’s wrath in the pitch dark of route 249 with its large stretches of road with no street lights.
It was at this point that I started questioning if I had been dropped on my head as a baby, because what kind of masochist goes running in a typhoon, seriously. As stupid as it was, in the end I learned a valuable lesson about Indomitable Spirit. The will to fight and push on no matter how much you want to stop, the deep down part of your soul that says no matter what gets thrown at you or how many times you fall down, you are going to get back up and keep moving forward.
Indomitable spirit is not about winning or being the best in comparison to anyone else. It is winning over yourself, its discovering that you have reached the edge of what you can handle and saying that you refuse to give up. As JETs we all have faced and are going to face more very difficult challenges. For some it will be coping with living in a country where they can’t speak the language, while for others it might be coming to terms with living alone for the first time. For more it might be dealing with a pushy boss or rebellious kids. Whatever the problem is, remember Indomitable Spirit, that you WILL get through it and you WILL survive, and that when you do, you will come out stronger and wiser for the passing through. But in order to do so, you have to brace yourself and maybe do things you don`t enjoy, or not be able to do things you do enjoy, maybe it is learning to control your temper, or perhaps even learning to show it a little.
Unfortunately, life is very rarely getting what we want, more often it’s a series of difficult situations in which we strive to find some semblance of order and happiness. Through Karate and Taekwondo we strengthen our hearts and our wills and by doing so the difficulties we face are not so traumatizing and it becomes more and more easy to find the good side of bad situation. It is this indomitable spirit that carries us over and past obstacles that stand in our way or the lack of it that determines where we finally lose the will to continue and then give up.
Japanese Bushido 武士道 ぶしどう is made up of 3 parts, 心・技・体、 （しん・ぎ・たい） heart, technique, and body. Indomitable spirit is this 心 （こころ ･ しん） heart or even たましspirit. It is considered one of the 3 most essential aspects to being a martial artist. When you ask a teacher what Karate is, they will not answer its a way to fight, probably not even a way to protect yourself, they will answer, it is a way to strengthen your heart. If your heart is strong, then nothing can ever break you.
So all those out there who are struggling, my best advice is to face your problems head on and take heart in the fact that we are all in this together. Harden yourself to the distasteful and push forward with pure willpower. But not only that, have confidence in yourself and the next time you feel like your being pushed into a nomikai drinking party by your principle, let your indomitable spirit shine through and refuse (politely). This is also heart, being true to yourself.
As always the Ishikawa JET community is here for you, and the calm after the storm is that much sweeter for its passing… Literally, the air is great, but please don’t be stupid like me and run in typhoons.
Benjamin Silver is a Martial Art fanatic who has been either day dreaming and fantasizing about doing flying kicks through the air or actually doing them everyday since he was 6 or 7. Currently living in Noto-Chou after graduating with a some semblance degree in Chinese and Japanese