Forging a Karate Mind

Japan Karate Association Philosophy

Karate is not a game of points, weight classes or showy demonstrations. It is a martial art and way of life that trains a practitioner to be peaceful; but if conflict is unavoidable, true karate dictates taking down an opponent with a single blow.

Such an action requires strength, speed, focus, control. But these physical aspects are only part of the practice; they are just the vehicle, not the journey itself.

True karate is based on Bushido. In true karate, the body, mind and spirit—the whole person—must be developed simultaneously. Through kihon, kumite andkata we learn to control our movements. But more importantly, we learn to give up control too. We can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remain focused without having to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still.

This harmonious unity of mind and body is intensely powerful. Even the greatest physical strength and skill are no match for the power of wholeness.

The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body. This is the core teaching of Zen, the basis of Bushido, and the of the JKA’s karate philosophy.

The Twenty Precepts of Karate

Japan Karate Association :: 20 Precepts

Before he established the JKA, Master Funakoshi Gichin laid out the Twenty Precepts of Karate, which form the foundations of the art. Within these twenty principles, based heavily on Bushido and Zen, lies the philosophy of the JKA.

1.Never forget: karate begins with rei and ends with rei (Rei means courtesy or respect, and is represented in karate by bowing)
2.There is no first attack in karate
3.Karate supports righteousness
4.First understand yourself, then understand others
5.The art of developing the mind is more important than the art of applying technique
6.The mind needs to be freed
7.Trouble is born of negligence
8.Do not think karate belongs only in the dojo
9.Karate training requires a lifetime
10.Transform everything into karate; therein lies its exquisiteness
11.Genuine karate is like hot water; it cools down if you do not keep on heating it
12.Do not think of winning; you must think of not losing
13.Transform yourself according to the opponent
14.The outcome of the fight depends on one’s control
15.Imagine one’s arms and legs as swords
16.Once you leave the shelter of home, there are a million enemies
17.Postures are for the beginner; later they are natural positions
18.Do the kata correctly; the real fight is a different matter
19.Do not forget control of the dynamics of power, the elasticity of the body and the speed of the technique
20.Always be good at the application of everything that you have learned.

The Five Dojo Kun

Japan Karate Association :: Dojo Kun

Senior instructors at the JKA developed the Five Dojo Kun, which everyone studying at the JKA commits to memory. With each practice session at the dojo, students kneel in the seiza position and repeat these five precepts out loud. This reminds students of the right attitude, frame of mind and virtues to strive for both within the dojo, and outside.

Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
1.Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto Seek perfection of character
Makoto no michi o mamoru koto
2.>Makoto no michi o mamoru koto Be sincere
Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto
3.Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto Put maximum effort into everything you do
Reigi o omonzuru koto
4.Reigi o omonzuru koto Respect others
Kekki no yuu o imashimuru koto
5.Kekki no yuu o imashimuru koto Develop self-control