Deep appreciation is one of the core tenets of karatedo.
Gassho [pronounced “gah-show”] means “deep appreciation” and it describes the deep joy and thankfulness that we have for everything that we do, everything we receive, and everything that we have.
Gassho is the ultimate and most powerful expression of mindfulness and awareness (zanshin).
We are Surrounded by Those Worthy of Our Gratitude
We travel through the our days, implicitly relying on the tremendous goodwill and support of the people around us: our friends, our family members, our husbands and wives, business partners, our teachers, our fellow students, even random strangers – everyone gives us so many gifts each day that perhaps we take them for granted.
Gassho reminds us to be mindful of these gifts and the presence of all these people in our lives. Gassho encourages us to reach deep into our spirits and bring forth a truly intense and personal expression of joyous gratitude – a celebration of appreciation – for the presence of these people and their contributions to our lives.
Appreciating Life Itself
Gassho also reminds us of the wondrousness of life itself: do we appreciate that we have an entire new day, freshly-offered, each and every day of our lives? A day that will give us the chance to train on the dojo floor to become a better person outside the dojo? And a day in which our tomorrows do not have to be like our yesterdays, if only we make that decision to effect positive changes in our lives?
Such an opportunity to live a strong, positive, uplifting life of constant improvement and constructive change is something in and of itself a magical thing, and a truth for which we must hold the deepest and most sincere appreciation.
And finally, gassho reminds us to be deeply thankful of the unique and valuable person that we ourselves are – and the incredible contribution that we already make to the people around us today, and how wonderful it is that we also have the opportunity to make even more powerful and even more positive contributions to the universe of the people in our lives tomorrow.
Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered in this form by Sensei in San Rafael, California on 1 July 2013. However, various versions of this lecture pre-date this one by many years. This lecture was delivered again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 16 November 2022, and then once more at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo and via Livestream on 18 November 2022.