The Spirit of Go?

Hi there everyone. So i have an interesting question. What, to you, is the spirit of GO?

But why this question?

I as talking to a friend of mine, who is aware og go, and has played it, but he is a martial artist. He loves to train and fight, and the spirit of martial arts is very much about the competition, pitting yourself against others, and gaining more streangth power, and knowladge. There is also the spirit of martial arts where there is community also in what you learn and how you learn and the fighting itself.

But… We were talking about GO earlier on today, and i said that the spirit of go is less about pitting yourself against and more about learning to master the game. and about being the best GO player you can be. That is what i told him anyways, but really for me that is a huge over simplifacation.

The spirit of go to me is this… as a go player, we compete, we like to win, and we dont like loosing, that is human nature. But, what really brings out the spirit of the game for me isnt just playing against a person. Its watching, learning, discovering, and being part of this community of go players. Its about recognising within yourself the errors that you have made in the apst and accepting them, and the mistakes that are bound to come. Its about striving for a deeper understanding of the game. And its also about pitting my mind against another mind. Not in a struggle to see who has the more powerful mind, as power is entierly subjective in go. Its… like getting to know someone almost. But at the same time, there is an element of competition, to see who knows the game better, to see who has the better stratergy and techniques and ability to read.

The spirit of go is all encompasing.

And my friend told me that my spirit of go, the simplified version, was basically so different to his spirit of martial arts, that it seemed alien to him.

Anyways, thanks for reading. Im aware that a simmilar topic was posted rescently, called, “Why do we play Baduk”, but i feel this is different as its less about why, and more about what, if that makes sense?


See also:

In my view, the spirit of Go is universal. After all, Go, in one popular legend, originated as a simulation of the universe by astrologers. It encompasses all aspects of Bartle’s taxonomy of player types by emphasizing achievement (increased rank and won games), exploration (great depth of Go and creativity of play), socialization (Go as “Hand Talk”), and killing (both groups of stones and overcoming competition with others). The spirit of Go must also include the tradition of etiquette that has been built up around the game—that of respecting opponents, playing only the best moves you can find, and abstaining from trickery (which disrespects the opponent by assuming they won’t make the best possible replies).


I’d say that the spirit of the game, for me, is not mastering the game itself (since that is obviously impossible and even top pros consider such mastery to be a “work in progress”), but mastering yourself.

Go is imho the perfect medium through which one can train a lot of aspects of their own personality … be those aspects greed, the desire to always win, the inability to accept or handle mistakes, the thrill of the victory instead of the joy of playing, Go is there to tap you at the wrist and teach you moderation :

That you cannot be very greedy
That you cannot always win
That you will make mistakes
That you will have to adapt and do not give up
That you will have to learn to enjoy the process, not only the result
and so forth …

One could argue that this could be the spirit of gaming in general, but Go being one of the most intricate games of all, I consider that it has the most qualities, the most lessons to provide its players … so all that (and more) embodies for me the spirit of Go.


Thank you for your response. I find myself agreeing with everything you said. And indeed you have given me food for thought. the same can be said for what you, @JethOrensin said.

I have read before that the Go board and the game is little more than a mirror, and it isnt your opponant that you are fighting, you are simply fighting yourself. I personally find that to be true, but it also says a lot about the mentality and spirit of go.

@mark5000 I shall be taking a further look in to those links you posted, when i can be bothered to read a whole conversation XD.


It is complexity arising from simplicity, which is the nature of the universe itself.


Go is both deep and simple, in a way that sets it apart from many other games that are so often shallow and complicated.


The core nature of Go is self exploration and the pursuit of ever greater, but unobtainable, mastery. Competition, against yourself, is the cornerstone of every action that we take. In pursuance of deeper understanding, we are constantly skirting the edge of obtaining knowledge we once viewed, in the hands of others, with awe.

Because that understanding is hard won and requires endless excavation of the mind, heart, and spirit. Endlessly we dig deeper, looking for truths hidden in plain sight. We are never finished, endlessly disquieted, and insatiable passion endures. For what we are after is our own truth. The kind only obtained by journeying inward, along a path of dedicated deduction winding through halls of rumination and perseverance.

Every element, concept, and fact that we can assess, compute, and evaluate with our poetry and heart felt verses, is true. For Go embodies the entire spectrum of what can perceived and felt; the good and the bad, beautiful and ugly. But like the deepest love, there are aspects that mere words can never touch.

Within our beloved, lies an intangible essence that cannot be quantified. But it can be perceived by the heart and mind. This unknowable, immeasurable, indisputable substance, is the spirit of Go. It is why we play, what we chase, and what our hearts forever long to know better.


I came across a great quote somewhere - “…Backgammon is a game aginst fate, Chess is a game against an opponent, Go is a game against yourself” :grinning:


I very rarely have anyone to blame for my defeat but myself. :sweat_smile:


I know that feeling a little too well XD.


“…Backgammon is a game aginst fate, Chess is a game against an opponent, Go is a game against yourself”

Yes the spirit of Go for me is: “Being beat-up and left for dead, and then standng back up again for another beating by another stronger opponent.”

I don’t know if there’s any space for spirit in that? Perhaps the spirit is in “the effort to stand back up again”? Or just accepting anger against the opponent is useless, work harder if you still want to be better.

It reminds me of those training/recruitment ordeals: "C’mon say it! Say you want to QUIT! Say it!! "


From Killer of Go by Sakata Eio 9p:


That was a delight to read thank you… do you know where I might read more like that?

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