All karateka must follow its basic principles which are just as important if not more than the practice itself.
Each of these precepts is very short and of a philosophical nature which tends of course to various interpretations. The translation that I put below is only the result of my readings and my personal interpretation.
I do not pretend to hold the truth and each precept can probably find other explanations, but I try to write with my heart and my mind to, in my opinion, stick to the right to the will of the Master.
1- Karatedo wa rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru koto wo wasuru na.
- Do not forget that karate begins and ends with respect.
Respect is an essential virtue in karate, as in life. Always keep in mind the 3 R rule: Respect for others, self-respect and responsibility for one's actions. Karate is not a discipline based on violence and brutality, but on the contrary on the deep respect of the adversary and of oneself.
2- Karate neither feels nashi
- No first attack in karate.
Even if in karate we learn techniques that can be deadly, we should not use them to attack. Karate must remain an instrument of defense and must be used only in extreme resort, once any other alternative is discarded and even if you have to strike first, it must be for defense purposes and not for attack.
3- Karate wa gi no tasuke
- Karate is the instrument of justice.
Karate, as we have just seen, is an instrument of defense, it must serve good and equity.
In no case should karate be used for vile and unjust purposes. Think carefully before using your art: -Is my intentions right? -Is there no other solutions? - Am I doing good using karate? , etc.
But beyond art itself, karateka must behave fairly in his life in general, he must respect the rules of morality, otherwise he will never achieve perfection in karate.
4- Mazu jiko wo shire, shikashite ta wo shire
- Know yourself first, then know the others.
The motto of Socrates was "know thyself" or in ancient Greek: "Gnothi seauton". A humanist philosophy on self-awareness. To learn to know oneself to better understand the world around us. Master Funakoshi takes this precept for karate, because as in life, the important thing in karate is first of all to know oneself, to listen to one's body and senses before trying to know one's opponent. What good is it to observe your opponent and know all your weaknesses if you do not even know how to manage your own body, your own emotions. To overcome, you must first overcome your weaknesses, your doubts ... This is the role of training, physical and spiritual. "To know others is wisdom; to know oneself is superior wisdom. "Lao Tzu
5- Gijutsu yori shinjutsu
- The mind more than the technique.
Even if technical training is probably what we work the most, it represents little compared to the spirit that should animate the technique. It is much more important to think, to use one's intelligence and to reason rather than to use one's own best technique. Sometimes a discussion, a simple sign, is enough to appease the spirits and avoid the fight. And even in combat, working with intelligence will always be better than focusing on technique without thinking.
6- Kojoro wa hannata and koto wo yosu
- Release and guard your mind.
The mind, if it has to take precedence over technique, must not allow itself to be confined by too much concentration. At the beginning of the learning, you will necessarily focus your mind on technical details, but, through training, you must learn to let your mind wander, to leave him free to act by himself almost unconsciously. Your mind must be free.
Do not let your mind shut up in parasitic thoughts such as fear, hatred ... Act wisely, clearly and thoughtfully without precipitation.
7- Wazawai wa ketei ni sho zu
- Bad luck comes from negligence.
In the West, we would say: "The accident does not happen only to others. ". This precept could be translated into one word: vigilance or zanchin!
Clearly, any act, any decision taken in combat can lead to defeat. You must not neglect anything and build your fight or non-fight with method and patience to achieve victory. Do not do anything under the influence of anger, do nothing in haste ... Act quickly, but thoughtfully!
8- Dojo nomi no karate to omou na
- Do not think that karate is only at the dojo.
Karate is a martial art or rather an art of defense, it trains the body and mind to make it less vulnerable and ready to defend itself. This training should not stop at the door of the Dojo. You must keep in mind the precepts of karate in your daily life and seek the perfecting of your body and mind, by a simple lifestyle and without excess. Be respectful, temperate, fair, vigilant, perseverant, cautious ... in karate and in your daily life.
9- Karate no jugyo wa issho of aru
- Karate training lasts a lifetime.
Karate-do is a way to follow, a path that leads to the development of body and mind. Karateka climbs the steps of knowledge as it progresses, but never reaches absolute knowledge, there is always more to learn, to understand. In addition you must constantly relearn your bases to consolidate your foundations in order to build a karate more and more complete.
10- Arayuru mono wo karate kaseyo, soko ni myo-mi ari
- Think all things of life through karate, there is the hidden subtlety.
Karate is everywhere. In your actions, in your thoughts, in your decisions, in short, in everything you do act in Karateka. Apply all the precepts of karate in all your activities of daily life and your life will be more serene and the problems easier to solve.
You have difficulties, worries, hardships ... Consider all this as part of your karate training, as an additional step towards perfection. You follow a path, the do, never forget it.
11- Karate wa yu nogotoshi taezu netsudo wo ataezareba motorcycle no mizu ni kaeru
- Karate is like boiling water, which becomes cold again if you do not bring it heat continuously.
Being karateka, graduating as a black belt, that's good, it's a lot of effort and hard work, but that's not enough. We are karateka all his life, under conditions to train continuously. Boiling water has a great energetic potential just like karateka, which reaches a certain level in its art. But without constant heat (for water) or learning, research, training ... (for Karateka), the potential evaporates very quickly over time.
A Japanese proverb says, "Learning by doing is like pushing a cart toward the top of a hill: Stop pushing and all your efforts will have been in vain. "
12- Katsu kangae wa motu na, makenu kangae wa hitsuyo
- Do not think to win, think not to lose.
Karate is above all an art of defense that serves to preserve the physical and mental integrity of karateka against aggression. The important thing is not to win against an opponent whoever he is, but to preserve and therefore not to lose. Do not look for victory but try to avoid defeat.
As in the precept N ° 4 which teaches us the importance of self-knowledge, you must turn your mind towards yourself, get to know yourself and preserve yourself. Do not turn your mind towards your opponent by trying to beat him.
If pride, vanity, competitive spirit make you want to win at any cost during a fight, you are likely to be blinded by these feelings and your mind will not be free.
13- Teki ni yotte tenka seyo
- Change according to your opponent.
Adapt your karate according to the opponent who is in front of you. Whether for a real fight or a fight at the club. The goal is not to win, adapt your fight not to lose, but do not try to crush your opponent if it is significantly lower than you. And if on the contrary, it is clearly superior to you, use finesse and avoid the fight if possible (anyway it's what you have to try that the opponent is higher or lower than you). Be smarter than him. Do not use that technique. Move differently, whether it is big or small, slow or fast ... You must keep the vigilant mind (zanchin) and adapt your defense according to your opponent and circumstances.
14- Ikusa wa kyo-jutsu no soju ikan ni ari
- In combat, the strategy lies in distinguishing the openings of the invulnerable points.
This precept joins the previous one in the sense that you must observe your opponent and adapt your karate to your observations. Watch your opponent in its entirety while identifying its peculiarities. In karate, it is necessary to show strategy and look for the weak points of the opponent. Before you head down into the fight, learn to observe it. What are his reactions, how does he move, how does he breathe ... You must find fault in his defense and you must exploit them. Do not lock yourself into stereotypical combat shackles with lifeless and repetitive techniques without worrying about your opponent. On the contrary, be flexible of mind as of body. Open your eyes and your mind and know how to decide at the right moment when an opening appears.
15- Hito no teashi wo ken to omoe
- Think of human arms and legs as sabers.
With training, karateka strengthens the body and can be used as a weapon. The arms, legs, feet, hands, knees, elbows ... are all possible weapons of the body. You must use your arms and legs as if they were real weapons. These are weapons that will allow you to defend yourself, do not neglect them, take care and maintain them as a samurai maintenance his sword.
Your opponent is also equipped with these arms that are arms and legs, think about it too. Even if he fights with his bare hands, consider your opponent as an armed man who may have caused you serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Be alert and do not underestimate the power of arms and legs.
16- Danshi my wo izureba, hyakuman no teki ari
- Past your home, 1 million enemies are waiting.
This precept could be translated into one word: caution! Always be on your guard in all areas. Life is beautiful, but we are not in the land of Care Bears, stay cautious and ready to defend yourself in case of any attack whatsoever. Do not trust strangers, but only your loved ones. Stay wary as long as you are not sure that all danger is out.
17- Kamae wa shoshinsha and ato wa shizentai
- The novice forces himself to the posture of formal guard, the natural posture will come later.
When you start karate, you have to force yourself to adopt positions, techniques, basic moves that are often unnatural. It is necessary to force the body and the spirit to hunt the natural and to work the bases. The human being is by nature lazy, if you do not chase the natural, you will not progress. Take postures as your teacher teaches you. With years of practice, the natural body and mind can return and use what has been learned under the constraint of learning.
18- Kata wa tadashiku, jissen wa betsumono
- The kata must be executed strictly, in combat it is another thing.
This precept is a little like the previous one. When learning, we must chase the natural and strive to apply learning techniques such as kata in a formal way, so that the body and mind are gradually forging the techniques of combat. During a fight, it's completely different, and it's even the opposite, you have to try to let the natural freedom to work. And if it is free, your natural will use of itself what your body and mind will have assimilated to training.
19- Chikara no kyojaku, tai no shinshuku, waza no kankyu wo wasureru na
- Do not forget to modulate the power of the force, the elasticity of the body and the relative speed of the techniques.
In karate, your only strength will not be enough, flexibility is not enough and speed too. You must learn to mix these fundamental 3 elements in your techniques, strength, flexibility and speed. Take the very simple example of a Tsuki, the energy generated in the Hara will transit to the arm through the body with flexibility and speed. Your arm must remain relaxed to gain speed and it must become very strong at the moment of impact and then relax again to release energy into the target. If the arm was only strong, it would be too slow, if it were only supple and relaxed, there would be no release of energy on impact and if it was only fast, it would crash on the target (risk of injury). In short, the art of technique is to measure strength, relaxation and speed with a precise chronology. Each body muscle will go through these phases at different stages of the technique. The basic work (Kihon, Kata) will allow you to perfect this modulation.
20- Tsune nor shinen kufu seyo.
- Think about it all the time and follow these precepts on a daily basis.
These precepts must be applied daily, at the dojo and outside. Karate is a source of physical and mental growth. It is a permanent search for perfection, a fight against oneself in combat, but also in any other activity. By applying these precepts of respect, defense, justice, listening to oneself, reflection, free spirit, vigilance, perseverance, listening to others, wisdom, prudence, rigor, moderation ... you will become a complete karateka and a fulfilled human being.
Here, as I told you, there are probably many other possible translations.
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