The Philosophy & Spirit of Shotokan JKA Karate - Quotes by the Master:

Karate Practice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Meaning of the word KARA in Karate .

In 1955 the Japan Karate Association (JKA) was formed by Master Gichin Funakoshi- the founder of shotokan

karate and his leading students. According to Master Gichin Funakoshi in his book titled: Karate-Do Kyohan 1956

"There are several japanese meanings to the word Kara of karate the first meaning he explains as, to be able to defend himself with his bare hands,fists, kicks and strikes without weapons. Secondly one must empty or purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, just as a clear mirror reflects without distortion, OR the quiet valley which echoes a sound. For only with a clkear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives.This is the second meaning of the word Kara . Thirdly one who studies karate must always be humble inwardly and outwardly gentle, however once he has decided to stand up for justice, he must have the courage as if " Even if it must be ten million foes, I go ".  This meaning is also contained in the word Kara. Finally also the form of the universe is empty (kara), thus emptiness is form itself. The kara of kara-te also has this meaning.

Karate is a martial art of self-defence with which one can defeat enemies with a single fist, kick or strike, without weapons, and their value depends on the one applying it he writes:  "If it's application is for good purpose, then the art is of great value; but if it is mis-used, then there is no more evil or harmful art then karate. The source of concern is largely based on the mis-conception arising from instructors of poor character & understanding, who thoughtlessly place the emphasis on learning the techniques as a  means of fighting only, rather then on the optimal development of the character and spiritual & mental capacities .

 

 

 

 

 

 

One who truly understands karate is never easily drawn into a fight but rather avoids causing fights,as one attack or a single kick or punch could determine life or death.Therefore karate is applied to those rare situations in which one really must down another or be downed by him.This situation is experienced possibly once in a lifetime by an ordinary person, and therefore there may be an occassion to use karate techniques only once or not at all". Gichin Funakoshi goes on to write: "Art does not make the man but rather man makes art, students of any art, including martial art, must never forget the cultivation of the mind and the body. In karate one's individual goal may be the improvement of his health or the training of his body to function efficiently. He might wish to develop the strength of his arms,legs, or body, or to attain poise and spiritual fortitude. Clearly one could wish to learn karate to become humble. All such goals have to do with self-development. In contrast in the moment that one misuses the techniques, for example in fighting in such a way that he injures himself or others, or brings dishonour upon himself, he nullifies any of the above benefits & merits of karate. Such mis-use, arising from a superficial understanding is in fact self defeating. Through the man, techniques become art, I must earnestly repeat:  "Do not misuse the techniques of karate". "True karate practice, strives internally to train the mind to develop a clear conscience,enabling one to face the world truthfully, while externally developing strength until one may overcome even ferocious wild animals. Mind and technique are to become one in true karate parctice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This who practice karate must consider courtesy of prime importance, without courtesy, the essence of of karate is lost. Courtesy must be practised not only in karate ,but at all times in ones daily life. the karate student must humble himself to receive training. a presumptous, conceited person is not suitable or qualified to teach karate. The karate student must always be aware of and receive criticism from others e.g seniors and instructors,he must constantly be introspective,and not worry to much about others techniques in class, let them take care of their iwn techniques. He must readily admit any lack of knowledge, rather then pretending to know what he does not know. Those who follow karate must never forsake a humble and gentle manner. It is the small-minded individual who likes to brag upon acquiring some small skill, and this with little knowledge who carry on as if they were already  expert masters. It is because of this large number of false martial arts masters that the public tends to either ignore martial arts or consider him wild. Those who follow martial arts will develop courage and fortitude, Emphasis is placed on the development of mind and it is the gravest of times of public crisis that one must have the courage for the sake  of justice, to face a million and one opponents. For the karate student the most shameful trait is indecisiveness. In a few words then, those who seek karate should not stop merely at perfection of their techniques, rather, I hope, they will dedicate their lives to seeking the true art of karate. This is because life through karate is life itself, public and private .

                                     The Twenty Precepts of Karate :

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 and it's practitioner's spiritual development alongside his physical.

  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 (spiritual development) 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 ( its effectiveness in applying it in your life)

  11. Genuine karate is like hot water; it cools down if you do not keep on heating it (i.e. keep practising 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 (i.e. mind body 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.(i.e. in your life)

 

The value and health benefit of karate training for all ages:

Master Gichin Funakoshi in his above book on page 12 writes: " The nature of karate is such that it requires the body to move in all directions, in contrast , for example to the use of arms only in rowing, or the kegs only in jumping, hence there is no need of concern for one-sided development of the body in karate, as the overall holistic, uniform development of the body is considered one of its greatest benefits. Only one or two minutes are required to finsh a kata ( a formal exercise), the movements become quicker and the training as a whole more rigorous, so that one can get ample exercise from a relatively short period of time. This is the ideal form of exercise for many people today who complain that thwy would like to exercise but they just do not have the time. The little time required is a second major advantage. Almost no other form of exercise be it Judo, archery, swimming or horsemanship, can be performed at any place or time as easily as karate practise, as most sports require a large space,equipment, or apartner, and in this regard karate is the most adaptable, as it can be performed anywhere in the garden, living room, hallway, or any place one feels the desire to practice. This is the third big benefit. Usually exercise suitable for men is not suitable for women and vice versa: that for people recovering from illness is not enough for healthy people, and similarly, sufficient exercise fir the healthy, young people is too strenous for older people or young children. Karate however may be practised by the physically weak,by women, children,and by the lederly people, and each individual may adjust the exercise to his own personal level or capacity and their is no danger of over-exertion in the katas as they are only for a duration of one or two minutes. Moreover as the body is built up and the movements & techniques become more skillful and powerful.Thus the amount of exercise increases naturally as the training progresses and this is a fourth athletic merit of karate training. The various kata and kumite forms present a challenge for the practitioners to bring out their ultimate in training their minds and bodies development.The value of karate training can be seen in scientific tests and studies , even after a year of practice, one can easily see the tremendous improvement of his condition and his state compared to before starting karate training. My esteeemed teachers and masters the late Master Itosu & Azato were both weak in thier childhood and their doctors gave them up, but after starting karate training to improve their health, they developed so much that they seemed like different people compared to their old selves, and lived to become famous masters. Master Itosu lived to the age of eighty five years, and Azato to the age of eighty eight years. Master Azato's own teacher, the famous master Matsumura lived to be over ninety years of age. Othe masters such as, Yamaguchi, Aragake, Chibana,Nakazato,Yahiku, Sakihara and Chinen have all lived to be over eighty years. These examples are indicative of the role of karate as a superior method of maintaining ones good health especially in today's Covid stricken society where inactivity and of course past cormobidity to other illnesses have been recognised as the most significant risk factors for contracting serious Covid symptoms".

Karate as a supreme means of Self-Defence:

Master Gichin Funakoshi in his book Karate-Do Kyohan (1956) continues to describe karate as a supreme method of self-defence, he writes: "We should have no intention of harming other people, but we must try to keep out of harm's way. To protect oneself, one must find a method that would give the weak the power to defend against stronger oppnonets. The power of karate has become well known in these times in breaking boards or cracking stones without tools, and it is no exaggeration to assert that a man well trained in this form of defence may consider the whole body to be a weapon of awsomely effective offensive power. Although karate does have throwing techniques , it primarily relies on, striking, kicking, and thrusting techniques, these are much quiker and can escape an untrained eye. Block-attack combinations are executed simultaneously, and weaker individuals, women,or young children, do have ample strength to control a more powerful opponent with them. No weapons are necessary, the old or sick, or women,are able to apply it, and one can protect himself effectively even with little natural strength. These points combine to make karate a form of self-defence without equal. Karate also fosters the spiritual traits of: courage, courtesy,integrity,humility,and self-control etc together with the fact that there is no need for special plce or equipment or an opponent, aflexibilty in training is provided such that the physically and spiritually weak individual can develop hus body and mind so gradually and naturally that he himslef may not realise his own great progress. In order to master the art properly requires a minimum of five years, and possibly a lifetime of devotion to this art as a past time, as i conside karate to be the most suitable of the many martial arts leading to fulfilment of the need for training the spirit.

Karate as a modern olympic competitive sport :

In all countries fo the world and just recently in the 2020 Olympic games Shotokan Karate has been recognised as a great competitive, olympic sport, and has gained great popularity throughout the world as a sport which stresses mental disipline, as well as physical prowess. What was originallydeveloped in the orient as a martial art, then, has suvived and changed through the centuries in the past, to not only become a highly effective means of unarmed self-defence, but also an exciting & challenging sport enjoyed by  millions of enthusiasts throughout the world.

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