In the Okinawan dialect, there is no word for "retirement." Instead, they use a word called ikigai. Ikigai (pronounced ee-ki-guy) translates roughly to "purpose" or "that which makes one's life worth living." Okinawan's live with a sense of purpose, whether it be raising a happy healthy family, nurturing their vegetable garden, playing a musical instrument or practicing karate. Ikigai is something that brings enjoyment or fulfillment. It gives you a sense of satisfaction in what you are doing. It makes you happy to do it.
Karate or the martial arts can be that for some people. I know it is for me! If karate is not your ikigai, it may give you the physical or mental tools to find the ikigai in your life and keep you physically ft enough to continue experiencing it.
Your ikigai is the passion in life that drives you and that motivates you. It may be a hobby that you enjoy. It may be your job. It may be a sport that you participate in. It may be something that you create or express. The important thing is that it's something you enjoy doing so much that you can't imagine not ever being able to do it again.
Knowing your ikigai is important. It one of the key traits that leads to longevity in life. And, the Okinawan's have a long history of living very long lives as they have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world. In fact, Okinawa is considered a Blue Zone. Blue Zones are places in the world where people live to 100 and stay healthy. However, finding your ikigai can be hard work to figure out. You may need to do a lot of soul searching to find yours. Here are a few tips on how to find your own ikigai:
Vashon Borich-Leach, Sensei teaches traditional karate and tai chi in Branson, Missouri. She considers herself a life-time student of the arts. Her blog is an open journal of lessons learned in the martial arts. If you are a martial artist and would like to contribute to her blog please contact her.
©2012 Branson Karate & Kobudo™