The Rules of Karate-Do
Be deadly serious in training. Your opponent must always be present in your
mind, whether you sit or stand or walk or raise your arms. Should you in combat
strike a karate blow, you must have no doubt whatsoever that the one blow
decides everything. If you have made an error, you will be the one who falls.
You must always be prepared for such an eventuality.
Train with heart and soul without worrying about theory. Very often the man who
lacks that essential quality of deadly seriousness will take refuge in theory.
kibdachi (horse-riding stance), for instance, looks extremely easy but the fact
is that no one could possibly master it even if he practiced every day for an
entire year. What nonsense, then, for a man to complain after a couple of months
practice that he is incapable of mastering a kata.
Karate-do consists of a great number
of kata and basic skills and techniques that no human being is capable of
assimilating in a short space of time. Further, unless you understand the
meaning of each technique and kata, you will never be able to remember, no
matter how much you practice, all the various skills and techniques. All are
interrelated and if you fail to understand each completely, you will fail in the
But once you have completely
mastered one technique, you will realize its close relation to other techniques.
You will, in other words come to understand that all of the more than 20 kata
(in Shotokan) may be distilled into only a few basic ones. If therefore you
become a master of one kata, you will soon gain an understanding of all the
others merely by watching them being performed or by being taught them in an
3. Avoid self-conceit and dogmatism.
A man who brags in booming tones or swaggers down the street as though he owned
it will never earn true respect even though he may actually be very capable in
karate or some other martial art. It is even more absurd to hear the
self-aggrandizing of one who is without capability. In karate it is usually the
beginner who cannot resist the temptation to brag or show of; by doing so, he
dishonors not only himself, but also his chosen art.
4. Try to see yourself as you truly
are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others. As a karateka,
you will of course often watch others practice. When you do and you see strong
points in the performance of others, try to incorporate them into your own
technique. At the same time, if the trainee you are watching seems to be doing
less than his best, ask yourself whether you too may not be failing to practice
with diligence. Each of us has good qualities and bad; the wise man seeks to
emulate the good he perceives in others and avoid the bad.
5. Abide by the rules of ethics in
your daily life, whether in public or private. This is a principle that demands
the strictest observance. With the martial arts, most particularly with
karate-do, many neophytes will exhibit great progress, and in the end some may
turn out to be better karateka than their instructors. All too frequently one
hears teachers speak of the trainees as oshiego (pupil), or mentei (follower),
or deshi (disciple), or kohai (junior). Such terms should be avoided for the
time may well come when the trainee will surpass his instructor. The instructor,
meanwhile, in using such expressions runs the risk of complacency, the danger of
forgetting that some day the young man he has spoken of rather slightingly will
not only catch up with him, but go beyond him-in the art of karate or in other
fields of human endeavor. No one can attain perfection in karate-do until he
finally comes to realize that it is, above all else, a faith, a way of life.
When a man enters upon an
undertaking, he prays fervently that he will achieve success in it. Further, he
knows that he requires the help of others and, by accepting it from them,
acquires the ability to elevate the art into a faith wherein he perfects both
body and soul and so comes finally to recognize the true meaning of karate-do.
Inasmuch as karate-do aims at
perfection of mind as well as body, expressions that extol only physical prowess
should never be used in connection with it. As one buddhist saint, Nichiren, has
so aptly said, everyone who studies the Sutras should read them not only with
the eyes that are in his head, but also with those of his soul. This is the
perfect admonition for a trainee of karate-do to always keep in mind.