By Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA
Knowing yourself gives you insight into other people. That’s where you start. Without self-knowledge, your basis for understanding others is incomplete. So, what does this mean? It can mean many things and my understanding of it continues to grow as I continue to practice but for now here’s a synopsis. Knowing yourself means to know your mind, body and spirit both separately and together as one. Knowing your body means to know if you are healthy or sick, weak or strong, in pain or comfortable and to what degree you are all of these and in what way are you all of these. If you are weak in body for example what part of your body is weak? Your legs? Your arms? Your torso? And what do you have to do to make them stronger? Once you know how your body is weak then you can work to strengthen it. Knowing your mind means to know what you are thinking, and to know what you know and what you don’t know. However, as Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” We tend to think that what we think is fact when in reality it’s only our opinion and often isn’t true. You must be able to tell fact from fiction. And you must be willing to say that you just don’t know something.
Your spirit is your life force, so knowing your spirit means to know the strength of your life. How are you coping with life? Are you overcome by the sheer enormity of it? Are you taking life on and meeting it’s challenges on your own terms? Are you worried and filled with doubt? Are you experiencing peace and serenity? Do you have dreams for what you’d like your life to be like? Have you set goals? Are you working towards those goals? These are all an indication of your spirit. If your spirit is strong, you can accomplish just about anything. Of these three – body, mind and spirit – spirit is most important. It is what makes you alive. Knowing the condition of your spirit is critically important to your success. Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, and focused effort will do wonders to bring your spirit back up.
By Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA
Niju Kun #3 – One who practices karate must follow the way of justice.
This is the third of 20 precepts of Master Gichin Funakoshi, the Father of Modern-Day Karate. Master Funakoshi is known to millions of people around the world and is considered to be one of the three most important martial art masters of the 20th century.
Justice is doing what is right in the right way. To follow ‘the way of justice’ means to do what you do daily with the intent of doing the right thing in the right way.
Justice is most needed in difficult situations where the right thing is not easily known.
How do you apply justice in these situations? Well, you would start by quieting yourself and then asking ‘what is the right thing to do?’ Then be still and listen for the answer, an idea will come to you, that is what you should do.
You are learning this when you strive to perform your techniques as close to the ideal as possible. Every time you train you will be taking another step to having a clear understanding of the difference between right and wrong. And you will have formed the habit of searching for what is right and doing it in the right way.
So now, when you are pressed to choose between one action or another, you will more easily choose to follow the way of justice.
“The most profound thing the dojo has given me is a sanctuary. I always look forward to training and always leave feeling better. I am challenged in ways more than just physical. I have become a more humble human being. I feel accepted and respected by all my peers and this has brought me great happiness.”
Niju Kun #2 – In karate, never attack first. This is the second of 20 precepts of Master Gichin Funakoshi, the Father of Modern-Day Karate. Master Funakoshi is known by millions of people all around the world and is considered to be one of the three most important martial art masters of the 20th century.
This principle means to be peaceful and not think about hurting anyone, to always wish other people well. At the same time, you are aware that another person might not have the same peaceful intentions towards you and decide to attack you. If this happens, then you can make the first move to stop them. Physically you would attack first, but mentally they attacked first. A simple example is if someone is angry with you and there’s a stick nearby, and they look angrily at you, and then at the stick, and then back to you, and then they reach for the stick. It’s pretty easy to know that their intention is to club you with the stick. You would be foolish to wait for them to hit you before responding. You should act first to prevent them from attacking you.
Patience, tolerance and self-control are demonstrations of strength. Tolerate what you see as weaknesses and inconsistencies in others. Be patient with yourself and others and control your actions and reactions. These are signs of true strength. Weak individuals strike first with little provocation. The strong restrain themselves as long as possible. We practice this in class during sparring, when we learn to wait as long as possible before responding to an attack. Even if we are playing the role of the attacker we watch carefully and attack only when we sense an opening.
When you act with restraint others will notice and unconsciously treat you the same way. And, of course, the reverse is true. If you react violently to the slightest provocation then people will treat you in the same way.
An ancient martial art dictum says “Only after reaching the point where the situation can no longer be tolerated can the blade be drawn from its scabbard.”
Niju Kun #1 – Do not forget that karate begins and ends with a bow
This is the first of 20 precepts of Master Gichin Funakoshi, the Father of Modern-Day Karate. Master
Funakoshi is known by millions of people all around the world and is considered to be one of the three
most important martial art masters of the 20th century.
A bow is a true representation of respect. It is a way to show someone that you see them and properly
accept them. But it is not enough to see someone, you must also show that you accept them properly. A bow does this. It shows the person that you see them and accept them for who they are.
A bow is commonly used in eastern cultures but it is not the only way to show respect. In western
cultures respect is shown by greeting someone politely and offering to shake their hand. This lets them
know that you see them and acknowledge their significance. It also tells them that you’re coming in
friendship and that you trust them.
Showing respect to another person can have a huge impact on their lives. It might seem small to you, but
it might be very big for them. Imagine if you shook hands with the President of the United States. You
probably won’t forget it.
Before you can truly respect others, you must respect yourself, otherwise you risk coming across as
insincere. How you look, act, think and speak will indicate how much you respect yourself. If your clothes are torn and dirty, if you act like you don’t care, if you speak in a crude manner all these things will signal
to the other person that you don’t have a lot of respect for yourself and as a consequence you don’t
We share emotions with other people. When someone respects us, we feel good. So, when we respect
ourselves, we feel good. When we respect another person, they feel good. When they feel good, they
respect themselves more.
Life is hard, the more we do to respect ourselves and others the easier life will be for all of us.