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The moral code of Karate-Do



The 12 virtues of the moral code of Karate-Do

As Karateka, you must have heard about moral code.

This code is transmitted from generation to generation and from teachers to students to keep the state of mind and martial arts rules alive. You will see that respecting this moral code will help you greatly in your practice of karate.
Let us review in detail these twelve virtues:

1) The heart

The first virtue found in the moral code of karate-do is the heart.
The heart is that of man, of men. Practicing with the heart, it means, basically, practicing with passion, practice passionately.

I always say that karate is karate-do, it's the way of the empty hand.
And when you say that, you must understand too, empty of all bad intentions.
You really have to do it with passion and envy: when you have a goal, you have to have a burning desire to reach it. It must come out of your guts, from you. You must really want to go to the end.
This way of practicing karate, it is also necessary to use it outside karate.
This moral code is not applicable to karate. It will be applicable in your everyday life. Do not just go through life, live there with passion, live there with your heart, with your guts. Have empathy for the people around you. The heart is also being intentional towards others and then after, it is life that makes you.
The more you do things with passion, the more grateful you are to do these things, the happier you will be doing them.
Live with passion! That's the heart: practice and live in harmony with the people around you, with the women and men around you.

2) Courtesy

The second virtue is courtesy.
What does comity mean?
It is first of all respect. To be courteous is to be respectful to one's partner and oneself.
Master Funakoshi always said: "Karate begins and ends in courtesy".It means that you must practice without hate, without violence in you, without anger.
Remain courteous in all circumstances and analyze the facts.
Even if you are assaulted, from the moment you do not remain courteous,
anger will take over. From the moment that anger takes over, it will prevent you from thinking, reasoning, doing a correct fight and defending yourself properly. Even in case of aggression, it is necessary to remain courteous: to respect his adversary, not to take it of high. He may be better than you. You do not know anything about it. So, we must remain courteous.
Courtesy is really respect between men.
I always take the formula of Dalai Lama, the rule of 3 R : self-respect.
The first R for respect of yourself. This is the first person to respect. From the moment you do not respect yourself, you can not respect the people around you.
The second R is the respect of the person in front of you, or the others: the men and women around you, even life in general: objects, animals. The respect of others.
Then the third R is the responsibility of his actions. When you do something, you are responsible for it. We leave a little of the framework of courtesy.
I wanted to talk about self-respect and the other.
That's how you're polite, and you're not rude. We do not get excited, we do not get out of hinges, as we say. You have to stay in control of yourself. Courtesy is a bit like that. It is to remain master of oneself. Then look at each other with respect. Even if it is an enemy who attacks you, look at him respectfully, and then defend you in a respectful manner respecting the rules and the law.
Stay respectful.

3) The generosity

The third virtue is generosity.
What does that mean ?
You have to know that in your life, not especially karate, you have to give. That does not mean: I give and then you give me what in return? It really has to be done with the heart. You must give, but without ulterior motives. You must be generous. It means that you give everything you have. If you are a karate teacher or others, well, give everything you have. All you know. Give it! Say it! Do not hide anything!
And if you're senpai for example, you have someone in front of you, give everything you know. And even if you are a beginner, give all you have in your learning. Give to those who need it; Basically, be generous, be whole. Do not hide anything, be whole when you offer.
Do it too at karate with your opponent. Give all you have. That does not mean to give him all the punches and kicks you know. It's not at all that. It's really giving with your heart. Give without expecting anything in return. It will come back anyway. The more you give in life and the more life will return you. This is basically the morality that must be retained of this virtue that is expected of karateka: generosity. As I told you, the karateka moral code is really a way forward.

Not only in karate, it's a way forward in your life. Be generous, dedicated and selfless in your life.

4) Humility

The fourth virtue is humility.
What is the meaning of humility?

As the great masters of karate say, the higher you reach a higher level, the more your humility will develop. It must have been the ultimate goal of any karate student. Keeping the beginner mind is really a benefit. It is valid in all areas. The more you know about a subject and the more you realize that you still have knowledge to acquire and techniques to perfect. This vision of things automatically makes you humble.

Practicing humility also means staying in touch with others as equals. Stay modest, without vanity or pride and do not feel superior to others.
You will always need others for your progress and others will surely need you because everyone has unique skills. When you are dealing on an equal footing with someone, it's win-win relationships that come together. Humility makes you enjoy the benefits of this « team spirit", Meven if you practice individually. Have the humility to say to another karateka "You realize your kata really well, can you help me succeed better mine? Will make you progress faster than stuck alone in your corner.

There is no quota in the number of belts distributed, so you are not competing.

Stay humble and you will reach your goals faster.

5) Loyalty

The fifth virtue is loyalty.
Someone who is loyal is a loyal person who keeps his promises. Her honesty, uprightness and sincerity make her make reasonable and fair decisions in accordance with the code of honor she has chosen to respect.
Loyalty is being sincere and not cheating in words, actions, mind and body.

For a very long time, Japanese civilization has emphasized the duty of loyalty. Sometimes in a radical way. The extreme example is the Samurai who respected the Bushido with the obligation to be loyal until death.

Karate obviously integrated the spirit of loyalty into its moral code.

We are not in Japan and we live in the 21st century, but loyalty has its place in our practice of karate. In your clubs, be loyal and your relationships will be simpler and rewarding.


6) Friendship

The sixth virtue is friendship.
It's something important. It's a little different from love. Because in love, in general, there is a dependence between the two people. Friendship means having empathy for someone. Give him his friendship, but expect nothing in return. It is close to generosity. We must be generous when we are friends with someone. Friendship is really important. It's a great human value.
In a karate club, try to form a group of friends and work between you.
You do not have to be friends with everyone! When we have friends, we must respect them and respect this friendship.
Friendship is found much in philosophy. Aristotle spoke of virtuous friendship. The more you are a sincere friend, the more virtuous this friendship is, the more it is a reflection of yourself. The more you give, the more you will receive. Be a true friend to someone. To your friends, do not be someone who expects something in return. Be a friend without bad intentions, expect nothing, just generous. Life will reward you. This is not applicable to the dojo. The virtues found in the moral code of karateka are applicable everywhere. Friendship is the purest of feelings. In friendship, we will find all other feelings: generosity and all the feelings of respect that we find in friendship.

7) Theourage

The seventh virtue is courage.
What is courage?
It's making a decision and going to the end of what we decided to do by eliminating fear.
The biggest blockage you can have to achieve your goals is the fear of failure.
It's the worst of all. From the moment when you are afraid of losing or failing to get there, you may not succeed. So, you need courage to fight this fear.
It's not easy, but it can be learned, it works.
To be brave is to get up when you fall. A rider who falls back immediately on his horse.
In karate, if you make a kata and you are wrong, you start again. Do not think that failure is the end of everything. When you have not achieved something, do not think « that's all, I will not succeed« . Failure is something that, in fact, allows you to get back on track. When you have a desire, you want to reach a goal, you set a path.
At first you are brave. You are not afraid and you go there. And of course, as in life, as always, there are always obstacles to overcome. There are and always will be things that are not pleasant to cross.
For example, you decide that you want to be black belt. You start training and then, at the end of the first year, you put on your yellow belt and miss it.

If, at that moment, you say to yourself: « I give up, I will not succeed« , be sure to you will never be black belt. The courage is rather to say to oneself: « It does not matter, I have not had it, I will try to learn from my mistakes« .
What is happening by acting like this? You are going to ask questions about what you did and what was wrong. Maybe you do not train enough. Do you practice a little every day? Do you go to the club only once every two months? Courage is that. A permanent questioning. You have to go back, go back, get back in the saddle. You get back to work and you get on the right track.
To not be afraid of failure is to be brave.

A little story to illustrate my point: Take a child who wants to learn to walk. The child, will get up, he will take a step, sometimes two and he falls.
Would you like to tell the little baby who just tried to take a step:
« Ecost, it's still not hard to walk, you saw us walk, your mom and me. Well, that's all, apparently, since it does not happen, ramp! You will not be a walker".
In fact, what will he do with the baby? He will get up, he will walk again, he will take a step and then, for two to three days, he will fall with each step. After that, he will be able to take two steps, and then three. He goes from one chair to another and that's it: he goes with ardor and he finally gets there.
The baby is not afraid of failure. He does not even know what it is. Well, do the same! Try to forget the failure. Think about the image of the baby learning. Move step by step!
How to do when there is an obstacle? It must be circumvented by asking the question: « What did I do to get to this obstacle?« . Imagick failure as a way. It is a stalemate, certainly, but you will always have learned something by visiting this impasse. It does not mean that you are stuck. That means you just have to go back a bit and get back on track. And you go back to your goal and you have the courage to come closer. When you have something fixed, you have the courage to go to the end. That is, getting up when there is a problem.
In combat, it's really important. It's not because you lose a point that the fight is over. It's not because you lose one end of the fight that the fight is over. It is not because you are going to lose a fight that your life is over. So, do not be discouraged. Be brave ! Courage is very important. It's really a very important virtue in your karate life, but also in your everyday life.
Remember that courage is an important moral force and that we must always go back to the saddle. Be brave and learn from your failures.

8) Dignity

The eighth virtue is dignity.

What is dignity?
To remain dignified is to remain yourself, to remain whole. Do not go out of your hinges. Do not fall into anger. Stay dignified, whether in defeat or in success. Do not be too excessive. This does not mean that when you have a success, do not celebrate it. On the contrary, it is necessary to celebrate it, but while remaining worthy. That does not mean that when you have a failure, you do not have the right to be sad. It's normal to be a little sad, but you have to stay dignified and learn from your mistakes. Being dignified means having a little pride, being proud of yourself. But that does not mean crushing others. To be proud is to stay upright. You are someone who is whole and sincere in all circumstances. To remain dignified is to respect the moral code: loyalty, sincerity, respect in all circumstances. Whether in case of success, or failure. In both cases, you must remain dignified and respect your moral code. Keep the path that you have set yourself by engaging in karate-do, but also by engaging in life, in your goals. Stay worthy of yourself. Be proud to watch yourself in an ice cream.

9) Sincérité

The ninth virtue is sincerity.
Why do you have to stay sincere?
What is sincerity?
It's simply respecting your values ​​through your actions, your words.
Do not lie, stay really worthy of your values. Sincerity is actually acting with your heart, with what you are worth, with what you love, with your passion and not with your mind. One must not act in reflection: it will allow me to have this, it will allow me to have that. It's contrary to my values, but never mind, I do that.
Stay straight in your boots: be sincere, that's it. That is to say, not to lie to yourself or to others elsewhere. You find sincerity in friendship and honor. You give yourself a course, whatever it is follow without lying to you It can happen to you to make mistakes, or to have failures. But do not lie! Put your chess on the table and analyze it.
« It's true that I should not have done this or that. Good! Now, I will straighten the bar, to follow the path that I had drawn at the beginning. I want to be black belt. Of course, if I do not go to the club for three months, I will not do it.
Why did not I succeed in my grade? It's because of that. From now on, I resume training, I go there.«
Do not lie, do not look for excuses in others or in the facts. It's raining, you can not go running, No! Do not look for excuses! All the virtues of the moral code often come together. Moreover, the virtues, we often see them online, but we should put them in a circle with links each time between all the virtues. You obviously know the word but, in the end, did you think about its meaning? Think about it. I advise you to do a meditation thinking sincerity. When did I lie? When did I lie to others? Try to think about this and always stay honest and straight in your boots. Do not be afraid because sincerity will really allow you to look at yourself like in a mirror. You will be a better version of yourself by being sincere.

10) Serenity

The tenth virtue is serenity.
Stay calm, what does it mean?
I already told you about anger with dignity. It was necessary to remain dignified. In fact, staying calm is to stay calm. From the moment you fall into anger, you can no longer analyze the situation. It must be known that the human brain is composed of three parts. You have the reptilian brain that allows you, for example, to breathe without having to think. It is he who manages all the natural functions of the body that allow us to survive. Without him, the heart stops working, everything stops. This is the most important and we do not control it at all.
Above you have what is called the emotional brain. In general, he reacts very quickly. It's the fastest. That's why fear and anger go up fast.
You have over the neocortex which is a little slower. It is he who takes care of your reflection. The big advantage is that this one is you controlling it. This neocortex, you can control it so that it tempers the emotional brain and your emotions. This does not mean that you should not have emotion. To have some, it's normal. But emotions, you have to watch them, analyze them and make sure they do not play on your physique. Serenity, stay calm, it means that you must not suffer your anger. In any case, from the moment you fall into anger, or into a great fear, you have been attacked, if you are really terrified, there you can do nothing anymore. You may have learned everything you want, you will not be able to do anything because you will be paralyzed by your fear.
It's the same thing for anger: if someone annoys you and annoys you, if you fall into that anger, you risk saying things you do not think and doing things you'll regret later. It is therefore necessary to remain serene, to analyze and speak serenely, to analyze things.
I'm not saying it's easy. This happens to me quite often to fart a cable. It happens to everyone, but you have to try to do it as little as possible.
When it happens to you, think and say: « oh, wait, I should not have gotten upset« . The next shot, we try to analyze things and be more serene. Serenity is really very important. It is a virtue that is not easy to have because the emotions are not easy to manage. But to be overwhelmed by his emotions is no longer to be master of his body and his mind. Try to work that. Thea meditation should vWe do good. I put you below a link to a week of free meditation
I hope I did not piss you off too much. Serenity, staying calm, does not mean, staying placid and having no emotion, but it means controlling your emotions so you can act and think with confidence.


Free Meditation Week

11) Thehonor

The eleventh virtue is honor.
Moreover, sometimes we call the moral code, code of honor. Honor is really important in karate.
What is honor?
It's very close to dignity. If you go on the Internet and type dignity or honor, often they are marked as synonyms.
I would like to make a small difference.
On the one hand, we remain dignified in all circumstances. On the other, with honor, we respect our commitments. In the context of karate, karate-do, the way we set ourselves, honor means respecting the objectives you have set for yourself. It is respect for yourself, for your teacher and for the people you work with.
In karate or elsewhere, honor is that. It joins everything we've seen. That's why the moral code is sometimes called honor code because all the values ​​that are in it refer to honor. Respect means having the courage to be faithful to one's commitments.
When you fall, you will get up. All the virtues we have already seen, they join in honor. Work with pride in karate and wearing your kimono.
Karate is a method of self-defense that is ancestral. A long time ago, people invented techniques that came to us. Maybe it's not the same: some techniques have been much distorted and modified because karate adapts. But it's an honor to be able to inherit that. Always be working with that spirit. Doing honor is also greeting your partner when you enter the tatami. It's part of respect. When you say, « I'm going to do this or I'm going to do that". There is no need for a contract, a handshake is enough, a salute is enough. That means : « I will work with you. I will respect the rules of karate". To work with honor is that. It is to respect its commitments. When you greet, it means, I will respect all the moral code towards my partner, my teacher and I will go through without fail.

12) Perseverance

The twelfth and last virtue is perseverance.
It is a value and an important virtue for Karateka; to follow his path.
What is perseverance? If you've read my article so far, it's already a proof of perseverance. You have not let anything go.
Let's go back to karate. By taking your license and putting on your kimono, you become karateka, it is in your skin, you agree. You give yourself goals. This can be very different goals. You want your next belt, you want to increase your level, you want to please yourself, you want to do good for your body or you want to learn a specific technique of defense. All of these are goals. You have to go, but it will not always be easy. That's what we saw with courage. I know there are times when you will fall, you will have failures. Your passing grade, you may miss it. If every time you fail, you stop, you are not persevering. Try to visualize perseverance: you trace a path, your goal at the end, there.

You made your plan. You want to have such a belt, then you go on your way, you redo your workouts. You advance, you deviate a little and a failure occurs. What does it mean ? It does not mean that you have failed, it only means that you are not on the right track, you have made a gap. Maybe you have not trained enough, maybe there are things that have not been worked enough. At this point, challenge yourself and get back on track. When you fall, you get up. It's natural perseverance. By having the courage to continue until reaching your goal you will expand the scope of your perseverance. You go to the end, step by step. When you enter karate, you have a big mountain. Knowledge is all over, you never reach it completely. Even someone who is tenth dan will be the first to tell you that he is far from knowing everything. But you still try to go. You get as close as possible to the top, you want to progress constantly.
To persevere is that too. It is to seek to progress constantly. This is not to say: "It's good, I know that! "No, Heian Shodan, it's not worth talking to me about it, it's good, I know him, I already did. " But no! It's not that !
Perseverance is to say to oneself: "In Heian Shodan, there are many things that I do not do well and I persevere, I do it again, I do it again and I do it again to persevere and to progress. "
To be perseverant is to move forward on the path, to move forward so as to be better all the time. All of this is really important for your Karate learning. Always be a student to seek excellence, even when you are a teacher. I am a teacher and that does not prevent to learn every day. You must always have this desire to learn, persevere and move forward. Perseverance is practicing every day, even a little bit. Advance daily and you fall, you recover using other virtues such as courage, dignity, sincerity or fidelity. And you advance.
In all learning and karate, what will help you is time. In fact, he may be your worst enemy as your best friend. It's your enemy if you do not train because time will make you forget almost everything. But if you train a little bit every day, even the minimum, you will progress. You may say, "It's not worth it, I just barely trained," but this little bit added to others will keep you going.

The Japanese have a word for that: "Kaizen" which comes from "kai" which means "change" and "zen" which means "better". Over time, with successive trainings, you will progress.
That's perseverance. So, be perseverant. Set goals, and you go, you reach them!


Do not hesitate to give me your point of view on each of the virtues. Which ones do you prefer? Which ones do you follow?
Use the comments in this article to tell me how you live with karateka's moral code.

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  4. asso master ombotimbe at

    Thanks seinse, for teaching
    I have just learned again that karate is not just about kicks or feet.
    But a whole path that leads men to the right path without exception

  5. Perseverance and generosity in the effort, and the constant worry of the progression, beyond the suffering and the look of the other.

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  7. The kaizen in the industry (when everyone wanted to imitate the Japanese), was often translated by the "small steps". The notion of improvement differs from that of objective, which tends to increase the burden to assume, or sometimes a feeling of inadequacy. The goal is far-reaching. The small steps we advance, we see, we can even congratulate ourselves.
    The rise of Japanese industry may not be irrelevant to Bushido culture, group loyalty, etc.
    Inazo Nitobe speaks of this exit from feudalism and the utility of the old samurai mentality:
    (a harakiri ceremony is described quite impressively)
    In Eastern practices, the Asian masters propose more what belongs to their culture than "spirtuel", and takes its source in Confucianism.
    Master Funakoshi was a Confucian scholar and knew the classics:
    Now, for Japan, companies are no longer fiefs where one spent his life, and self-sacrifice is no longer appropriate.
    For friendship, the Orientals find us rather lamentable. We are in a commercial culture of buying and selling, where the social bond lasts only the time of making change.
    Maybe the dojos can limit the damage, but already we "check" as in boxing ...

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