Sokutei Zoka — Measure Increase 測定増加

One of the surest methods to increase something is to measure it.

Sokutei Zoka [pronounced “soh-koo-tay zohh-kah ”] means “measure increase” and points out the great value in establishing and recording strong measures of our progress as a tool to increase it. Sokutei Zoka applies to any aspect of our life, from health to financial prosperity, from happiness to skill-building.

It is an established piece of wisdom that measuring a “thing” means controlling it.

If we wish to lose weight, the first step is to actually measure (weigh) ourselves. Then, and only then, can we set our goals for weight loss. If we want to save money, keeping good accounting records leads to a larger bank account.

But there is much more to this concept.

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Measurement to Effect Change

Yes, we can control a think by first measuring it, but in reality, we can change a thing by measuring it as well. In our weight example, not only must we measure our weight, so that we may establish both a baseline for improvement and set a goal, but we must measure the caloric value of the foods we eat, and the exercise and other activity that we do. It is by measure all of these things that we ultimate take control of the process of losing or gaining weight. In this way, we gain control by measuring.

Measurement empowers us. Sometimes we are loathe to measure something, because we feel “pressured” or unfairly singled-out. However, this is not a productive way to think of the issue. Measuring something takes the pressure off of us; measuring and establishing metrics (benchmarks) lets us see how we are progressing towards our goals, and gives us a feeling of control over the process. Rather than feeling adrift and at the whim of changing variables, metrics give us control of our own destiny, and help us navigate the course which we have set for ourselves.

Measurement to Effect Increase

It is axiomatic that once we begin measuring something, it increases (or at least, moves in the direction that we want). Start measuring your bank balance, and you’ll become more frugal. Start measuring your weight and tracking calories consumed and exercise performed, and weight will improve.

Some things may be difficult to measure in terms of numbers, but we can track them nonetheless. If we want to improve our happiness, keeping a journal of our thoughts and daily events gives us a record that we can examine, and, ultimately, utilize to improve and enhance our happiness.

The best way to think about Sokutei Zoka is not that it means "measure increase", but rather that it means "measure, increase" – that extra comma describes the action and reaction of measuring something and then increasing the "something" being measured.

In all things, measurement means empowerment. Sokutei Zoka leads us to being the authors of our destiny.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
測定 Measurement (sokutei)
増加 Increase; to make a gain (zoka)

Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei at the Goju Karate dojo in San Rafael, California on 11 June 2014, and then again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 7 September 2022, and then once more at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo and via Livestream on 9 September 2022.