What is Dai/Sho?

As the smallest units of Japanese language, kanji are very different from Western words.  They carry concepts not meanings.  Understanding kanji, thus, requires us to open our mind to a dynamic reality and not a single-oriented one.  Dai means “the large” and Sho means “the small.”  The dynamic of dai/sho is about a perspective on something.  In the context of martial arts, it can also refer to a strategy of combat – moving/acting from a wide or small angle. 

Dai and sho are in the same relationship as yin and yang and cannot be understood as strict opposites.  They are interdependent.  There is no absolute dai or absolute sho, as only the context (or frame of reality) will define them.  Re-read that sentence again.  This is what the drawing above tries to illustrate.  Depending on where you stand, inside the grid or outside, your perspective will be different.  As an example, a geodesic in physics is a long curved line/distance between two points on the planet (dai concept as seen from above the planet – a sphere).  However, the geodesic is in reality the shortest way to get to your destination (sho concept as it looks like a straight line from the ground).  In a different context, a plane in the sky is flying in a straight line (sho) but its shadow on a hilly ground will look like curving up and down (dai).  In sum, the same event can be experienced in two different ways depending on your perspective/frame of reality.

In the context of Myoku, dai/sho should always remain in a dynamic perspective, meaning that you should never limit your mind to one side only.  Never keep your mind frozen – let it flow from dai to sho constantly.  In that sense you allow a space of possibilities.  In training, a small movement may overcome a strong attack; but a large movement may be the quickest way to get to the opponent.   Remain flexible in your training and keep an open mind.  Dai and sho can also refer to your attitude in training and life:  do not obsess with mastering a technique (sho), let it grow in you with time so you become the technique (dai).  Never limit your consciousness to what is before your eyes (sho).  On the contrary, expand your vision to the horizon (dai):  the sho always contains the dai in itself, and vice versa – one can become the other at any moment/context.  That is empowerment.

Try to understand the nuances of the dai/sho concepts in various ways in your training and in your life.  Feel them, experience them.  It will change your training in mind-body connection

A Zen reflection:  A cup of tea totally empty or completely full to the rim will never generate the power of perspectives – your mind will be fixed to one side.  But pour tea half the cup, and some will see it half empty while others will see it half full.  The power is not in being one or the other but in generating perspectives.  There is no absolute in nature and the universe.  Find your center line to keep the dai/sho dynamic alive in everything you do or think.  Re-read that sentence