Deciding who is the winner and who is the loser is not the ultimate objective of karate. Karate is a martial art for the development of character through training, so that the practitioner can surmount any obstacle, tangible or intangible. Karate is an exercise through which the student masters all body movements, such as bending, jumping and balancing, by learning to move limbs and body backward and forward, up and down, left and right, freely and uniformly. The quality necessary to accomplish this is self-control. To become a victor, one must first overcome oneself. (Masatoshi Nakayama)
Karate can also be described as a martial art, or fighting method, involving a variety of techniques, including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, and joint manipulations. Karate practice is divided into three aspects: kihon (basics), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
The word karate is a combination of two Japanese characters: kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus, karate means "empty hand." Adding the suffix "-do" (pronounced "doe"), meaning "way," i.e., karate-do, implies karate as a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. In traditional karate-do, we always keep in mind that the true opponent is oneself.
Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi has said that "mind and technique become one in true karate." We strive to make our physical techniques pure expressions of our mind's intention, and to improve our mind's focus by understanding the essence of the physical techniques. By polishing our karate practice we are polishing our own spirit or our own mentality. For example, eliminating weak and indecisive movements in our karate helps to eliminate weakness and indecision in our minds--and vice versa. It is in this sense that karate becomes a way of life, as we try to become very strong but happy and peaceful people.
Take off all your jewelry before training, including earrings, watches, large rings, or necklaces. This is good common sense as well as a rule of the dojo. Students remove shoes and socks for training before you walk out onto the dojo floor, and visitors, please remove shoes before entering dojo visitor viewing area. This is practical, since we train in bare feet on the floor, and it is a cultural tradition of Shotokan Karate.
If you arrive to class late, change quickly, go to the dojo floor, bow, then sit in the seiza (sitting) position. Look at the instructor and wait for permission to join the class. At this club, there is no religious or subservience significance involved in bowing. It is a tradition and custom associated with the art of Okinawan/Japanese karate, and should be viewed as a demonstration of mutual respect for the art and one another.
As Master Funakoshi states, "Without courtesy you cannot practice Karate-do." This applies not only to our training but also to life in general. The word "dojo" is actually two words. "do" which means "the way" or "the path" and ‘jo’ which means ‘the place’. When the two words are combined it means "the place where the way is studied’. The dojo is the place where we learn to live together as human beings. This is a serious subject and therefore we must always follow dojo etiquette. This is the first step to practicing Karate-do.
Upon entering the doorway of the dojo, face shomen side, (the side with Master Funakoshi’s picture) and bow. This is called ritsu-rei and shows deep respect to the teachings of Master Funakoshi as well as the seriousness of your study. When the instructor says line up, move as fast as possible to form the line. Remember, more than two steps, you must run. Always keep both balls of the feet in contact with the floor when kneeling down or rising to the standing position. If your posture is not straight and your feet not gripping the floor, then it is almost impossible to effectively defend against an opponent. Try this for yourself.
After making seiza (sitting position), then you must close your eyes in mokuso. This term means to cleanse or make blank your mind to prepare for training. You have to forget all your thoughts and concentrate only on what the instructor is trying to convey. By only existing in the moment can you really learn.
After the command mokuso yame, you should open your eyes. Shomen ni rei - bow to the shomen (front of the dojo), Sensei ni rei - bow to the instructor. Every time you bow push your ego further down and become as empty as possible.
A typical class format includes:
Kihon (Basics) Karate is built upon a strong foundation of basic moves that include specific stances, punches, blocks, and kicks. Proper body alignment and movement are emphasized, as are concentration and focus. During the practice of basics, students learn stability, balance, proper technique, and the principles of body contraction and relaxation. Basics are practiced during every training session by every level of karateka (karate student).
Kumite (Sparring) They can be roughly divided into two types: those which emphasize muscle strengthening and body building, and those that concentrate more on speed training and the development of lighting fast reflexes
Kata (Forms) Kata, the formal movements of karate, are its very essence. They are sequences of movements which simulate attacks and defenses against a number of imaginary enemies. Katas contain all the basic techniques and stances, which are necessary to attain rhythm and coordination. Each kata begins with a block to emphasize the use of karate strictly for self-defense.
According to Master Funakoshi, kumite is ". ..a form used to apply the offensive and defensive techniques practiced in the kata under more realistic condition in which, by prearrangement between the participants, one applies offensive and the other defensive techniques." In other words, where the practice of kata assumes an imaginary opponent, kumite is practiced with another karateka in alternating roles of defender and aggressor.
Kumite allows the practical application of the moves found in the kata. Contact is not allowed to the face and there may only be light contact to the body. During kumite, students learn proper distancing, timing, body-shifting, and focus. Kumite always begins and ends with sparring partners bowing to each other as an indication of respect for each other. Jiyu Kumite is free sparring, which is sparring engaged in without prearrangement. It is practiced by higher belts and is a form of training that is developed through the practice of step sparring (prearranged sparring).
Everyone who trains in karate must know the dojo kun. At the end of each training session—whether it be at the dojo, after class, or after a tournament, which I always call “special training”—the dojo kun is repeated all together by the students as a reminder of why we train. The dojo kun states the basic philosophy of karate, according to its founder and my teacher, Master Gichin Funakoshi. Master Funakoshi believed that, for the true karate-ka, the dojo kun should not only be considered a set of rules of conduct in the dojo, but a guide to everyday life. Everything we learn in the dojo, we should apply to everyday life.
Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
Seek perfection of character
This is the ultimate goal of karate. The other four principles of the dojo kun, as well as the entire nijyu kun, all tell us what it means to seek perfection of character—how we can go about pursuing this highest objectives. But this is the most important thing. We seek perfection of character from the inside out. It is something we should do every moment of every day of our lives.
This means we should never stop learning. Karate training, like life itself, is an ongoing process of growth and personal education, a process that lasts for a lifetime. It is good to set goals, but as soon as we accomplish them, it is important to set our sights on the next goal, to improve. To seek perfection of character is to always seek to improve oneself, to always endeavor to learn and grow.
Makoto no michi o mamoru koto
To be faithful means to be sincere in everything you do. Here we are talking about making a total effort, all the time, in whatever you do.
To be faithful of course means that you have to be true to other people, to your obligations—but it also means you have to be true to yourself. And to do so means you have to do your best in everything you do.
When you are faithful to yourself, others will have faith in you. This creates mutual trust between people. Being faithful to yourself is essential to realizing the first goal of being the best person you can be.
Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto
Try hard at everything you do. No matter what you are doing, whether it’s training, working, having a relationship—give it one hundred percent. To do anything else is to cheat yourself and others. If you don’t endeavor to do your best, you are not being faithful to yourself and others, and you are not trying to seek perfection of character.
Reigi o omonzuru koto
A true martial artist always shows respect to other people. And it is something you ought to feel in your heart. Showing respect is a sign of humility, and humility is necessary for an open mind, which it turn is necessary to learn, to grow. You can always learn something from every person you meet. Likewise, every person you encounter is a possible opponent of some kind, and that opponent can pose a threat to you, physical or otherwise. In either case, if you respect everyone, you will more clearly see things for what they are, and you will be able to get the most of every experience.
Keki no yu o imashimuru koto
Refrain from violent behavior
This is a reminder to keep calm inside. Control yourself at all times, from within. Conflict within is a form of violence. It leads to violent actions, which is something you should try to avoid at all costs. A martial artist should always be in control, and that begins with an inner calmness, with peace of mind. If you are forced to defend yourself as a last resort, then it is all right to do so. But you will only be successful defending yourself when you maintain a calm, clear mind, in which case using karate technique to protect yourself will truly be your reaction of last resort.
|1.||Karate begins with a bow and finishes with a bow||Karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto a wasaru na|
|2.||In karate, never attack first||Karate ni sente nashi|
|3.||One who practices karate must follow the way of justice||Karate wa, gi no taske|
|4.||Know yourself first, then you can know others||Mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire|
|5.||Spirit and mind is more important than technique||Gijitsu yori shinjitsu|
|6.||Be ready to release your mind||Kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu|
|7.||Misfortune comes out of idleness||Waza wai wa ketai ni seizu|
|8.||Don’t think that what you learn from karate can’t be used outside the dojo||Dojo nomino karate to omou na|
|9.||It will take you entire life to learn karate||Karate-do no shugyo wa isssho de aru|
|10.||Put karate into your everyday living; that is how you will see its true beauty||Ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; sokoni myomi ari|
|11.||Karate is just like hot water; if you do not give it continuous heat, it will become cold||Karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru|
|12.||Do not think that you have to win; think, rather, that you do not have to lose||Katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo|
|13.||Move according to your opponent||Tekki ni yotte tenka seyo|
|14.||In conflict you must discern the vulnerable from invulnerable points||Tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari|
|15.||Consider you opponent’s legs and arms as you would lethal swords||Hi to no te-ashi wa ken to omoe|
|16.||Be aware at all times that you have millions of potential opponents||Danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari|
|17.||For full awareness in natural stance, you must practice ready position as a beginner||Kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai|
|18.||Practicing kata is one thing; engaging in a real fight is another||Kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono|
|19.||Do not forget: (1) strength and weakness of power; (2) contraction and expansion of body; and (3) slowness and speed of techniques||Chikara no kyojaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu|
|20.||Always create and devise||Tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo|