Friday, January 11, 2008

Kyokushin Dojo Kun: Last line

Hitotsu, wareware wa, shogai no shugyo o karate no michi ni tsuji, Kyokushin no michi o mattou suru koto.
'All our lives, through the discipline of karate, we will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin way."

If one notices, all of the lines of the Dojo Kun start with the word "Hitotsu" which means "First", and ends in "koto" which translates to "thing/object". In other words, we are being told that every single concept contained in the Dojo Kun is as important as the next one. This final exhortation is not more or less important because it is at the bottom of the list.

Training seriously in the path of Karate demands much from a person mentally, physically, and spiritually. Mentally, we are challenged to learn the various techniques, strategies, concepts, patterns, even the terminology, and history of our artform. Physically, we work towards more stable stances, better controlled balance, speed, agility, power, and effectiveness. Spiritually, we work on our inner character, and to embrace such virtues as courage, perseverance in hardship, humility, and dedication. Achieving success in these demands require a certain amount of discipline within oneself. It is wrong to only speak about karate without "doing" it. Knowledge is only potential change, for it to be activated in our lives we have to apply that knowledge. Knowing how to do a proper front kick is a far different experience that actually performing that same kick 100 times. To be able to say that we are living the discipline of karate, we have to do the "Do".

Through our efforts, we seek to fulfill the "true" meaning of the Kyokushin "Ultimate Truth" Way. Why did Sosai Masutatsu Oyama chose to name his Karate style with this concept?

Let's look at the history of the naming of the various styles. Up until a certain point in time, karate was basically known as "Chinese hands" or "Tode". There is some diversion in who claims to have changed it to "Empty hands" ( Kara Te ) I tend to believe that it was Sensei Gichin Funakoshi who chose to do this to make the art more acceptable to the Japanese populace. At this time era, the various karate styles in Japan were asked to list themselves as there were so many varieties of Karate. Goju Ryu was named to reveal that it worked on both "hard" and "soft" methods. Wado Ryu was named "The way of harmony". Each founder chose a name that encompassed the center of the philosophy of that art. ( Except for Sensei Gichin Funakoshi, he didn't chose the name of his style, "Shotokan", his students did. When asked what style that they were following, they would answer "We study at Shoto's place." "Shoto" was the pen name that Sensei Gichin Funakoshi used when writing.)

Therefore, like many other Sensei, Sosai Masutatsu Oyama chose the Kanji "Ultimate Truth" to represent his style's philosophy. Sensei Omid Khademzadeh explains this so eloquently "Many Kyokushin groups throughout the world have chosen to focus their experience around the philosophy of Kyokushin as a method of self-improvement and discipline. The Kyokushin way teaches its students that the most important aspects of training are not the ability to knock down an opponent. Instead, the person must contemplate the technique and understand that the true meaning of the Kyokushin way is not in violence, but the mastering of oneself. An important philosophy is never to do what you cannot undo, and never use more violence than is prompted or necessary. Through understanding of this comes the ability to fight on an elite level, but fighting is not the Kyokushin student's overall goal."

Let us train hard for the rest of our lives with all of the Dojo Kun's promises, potentials, and possibilities in mind.

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