Yama no chōjō ni wa ōku pasu — Many Paths Up the Mountain 山の頂上には多くパス

There are many ways to achieve our goals; but as we go about climbing ever upwards, we have to be careful that the paths we follow are indeed our paths, and not someone else's path.

Yama no chōjō ni wa ōku pasu 山の頂上には多くパス [pronounced “yah-ma no cho-joe knee wah oh-koo pah-soo ”] means “many paths up the mountain"  — reminding us that there are many ways that we can accomplish our goals and move forward.

Very often we find ourselves deciding that there is only one right answer to a problem and one way to achieve a desired goal. This is natural, because we spend much time solving problems and thinking about how to reach our goals. And once we have found a path to the destination we seek, we think our work is done. And we also think that we have discovered the one, the correct, the only path to the solution.

But many times, this is not true.

In fact, many times there is more than one solution, one path, to a destination. And while these paths may be different, they all arrive at the same end result. We need to consider that there may be other paths, and that these paths may also arrive at the same destination as our first solution – they may even be better solutions.

The Bias of Solving the Puzzle

In addition, though, we also need to remember that our solution may not be any better than that of someone else – our path may not be better than that of the person next to us.

We are often asked if our “karatedo” is better than some other martial art, for instance. And the answer to this question must be: for us, yes it is; but for another, their martial art may be a better path. In the end, if the destination of becoming a better person is reached, the path is a good one.

So once we solve the "puzzle" and choose a path that we follow, we have to be aware that indeed there are likely multiple solutions to the problem, and that the path that we chose isn't necesarily going to be the best, or even a good, path for someone else.

Whose Path is this, Anyway?

There is another aspect to the idea of all these paths up the mountain of our life. Is the path you chose, and the paths that you follow, yours? Or are you walking the path that was sold to you as being the best path?

We are surrounded by influences every day. Advertising blares at us on our walk to work and the screens of our phones constantly bombard us with advertisements and worse, more subtle influences in the news we read and the social media postings we see.

It is up to us to make sure that the paths we choose to walk in our life are truly our paths, and not the paths of others. And yes, surely, our friends and family have our best interests at heart when advising us and nudging us to one path versus another.

However, regardless of the motivations of those that push us to choose a direction, in the end we must have the courage and the wisdom to choose the path that we have decided is truly our path, and that path which we choose has to be in line with our goals and our purpose.

Walk Your Path

Once we've chosen our path, the hard work begins. It does us no good to finally choose a direction, but then fail to follow it, or worse even, follow it without enthuisiam and strong desire.

One does not climb a tall mountain without preparation and a map. But one also does not climb a tall mountain without enthusiasm and determination.

To get to the tops of all the mountains you wish to climb, choose the path that represents you and your goals and beliefs, and get to work. The summit of our goals awaits.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
mountain (yama)
[particle] (no)
頂上 mountain top/summit (chojo)
to (ni)
は多く there are many (wa oku)
パス paths (pasu)

Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei at the Goju Karate dojo in Mill Valley, California on 19 March 2012; this concept was presented again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 9 August 2023.