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Shuhari (守破離)

Shuhari (守破離) is a Japanese martial art concept which describes the stages of learning to mastery.

Shuhari roughly translates to “to keep, to fall, to break away”.

  • shu (守) “protect”, “obey”—traditional wisdom—learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs
  • ha (破) “detach”, “digress”—breaking with tradition—detachment from the illusions
  • ri (離) “leave”, “separate”—transcendence—there are no techniques or proverbs, all moves are natural, becoming one with spirit alone without clinging to forms; transcending the physical

Aikido master Endō Seishirō stated:

“It is known that, when we learn or train in something, we pass through the stages of shuha, and ri. These stages are explained as follows.

In shu, we repeat the forms and discipline ourselves so that our bodies absorb the forms that our forebears created. We remain faithful to these forms with no deviation.

Next, in the stage of ha, once we have disciplined ourselves to acquire the forms and movements, we make innovations. In this process the forms may be broken and discarded.

Finally, in ri, we completely depart from the forms, open the door to creative technique, and arrive in a place where we act in accordance with what our heart/mind desires, unhindered while not overstepping laws.”

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