When the thirst and hunger for training, I have seen many use the word Keiko, but in my humble opinion this has just a physical connotation and does not take into consideration the spiritual and mental training, so I prefer the word “RENSHU”, or even better when it become compulsive, it is called shugyo, or “difficult practice.” What is difficult is not so much the practice, which may have progessed to more advanced technique, but stopping the practice when class is over. The shugyosha wants to continue training in every free minute of time: these are the people who practice their kata in their mind, body and spirit, their kata during coffee breaks ” just to stay in readiness.” And analyzing every aspect of these movements. When you eat, breath and sleep practice that is shugyo. This is as far as most students ever get, and to be honest, its quite an accomplishment and something I always strive to do. The “punishment” of doing push-ups is a reward to these people. If seems distantly ascetic, you have it right: shugyo means “austere” or “ascetic practice.” The word “shu” can be literally translated as “complete” or “study” therefore, we go from “practice” to a “complete practice.” Living and breathing every moment. The kanji for shu indicates a man with a staff or sword in winter. Winter is the traditional season of ascetic practices (misogi, kangeiko), and is represented by a man walking on ice, which is shown by three short lines like drops of water or reflection in a frozen lake. To the left of the “winter” elements is a man and a staff or sword. Many times a karate-ka or budo master will take a staff with him on a ascetic retreat, amany of you may have done this during you gasshku in the mountains, I certainly go this during our “outdoor training” as a correction tool for technique and for me to support and check out the terrain, a iaido or kendo-ka practitioner may take a sword. In many cultures the staff is a very important implement for doing many things but for budo ka it is a weapon to practice and to defend.
So shugyo is really something we need to understand and instill into our training mentality and many karate-ka, because of too much tournament forget that karate-do and karate jutsu are, although similar in practice but different in attitude and benefit.