What is Shotokan Karate? In Japanese ‘karate’ means ‘empty hand’ in reference to the empty-handed nature of karate, but also that the student’s heart empty is of negative emotions. ‘Shotokan’ means ‘house of Shoto’ in Japanese. ‘Shoto’ was the pen-name of the founder of modern karate, Gichin Funikoshi, who introduced the art to Japan in the 1930’s.
Empty-handed martial art was developed in China, where the Japanese called it ‘chinte’ (Chinese hand). Chinte was introduced to the small island of Okinawa in the 17th century by Chinese soldiers, merchants, and diplomats.
The Okinawans made this empty-handed martial art their own. Each Okinawan district had its own style of karate, and its own masters. Traditionally each master had only a very few students whom he would train in his style of karate in secret.
The Japanese were impressed with the superior physique of the karateka (karate practioners) who were very strong and fast from years of hard training with their teachers. The Japanese asked the Okinawan karateka to train the Japanese soldiers in Karate. The karateka were asked in 1905 to develop karate training suitable for children to be taught throughout Okinawa.
Much of this public school training system is used in karate classes today in the United States and throughout the world. Karate was introduced to American soldiers after World War II, and to the United States.THE DOJO KUN (THE ETHICS OF TRAINING)
Traditionally the Dojo Kun is recited by all the students at the end of a class. The Dojo Kun consists of five statements developed by the founder of modern karate:
The recitation is especially useful for children who have the opportunity to internalize these virtues at an early age.
A Dojo Kun is a verbal affirmation that is recited by all of the students, usually at the end of each training session.
The purpose of the Dojo Kun is to remind all of the students in the dojo, regardless of their rank, that the physical, mental, and spiritual growth that they enjoy as a by product of their karate training, must also extend beyond the dojo's walls.
By that I mean, in order to derive the true benefits of Shotokan karate-do, each student must take the underlying principals of this art form and make them a regular part of their daily life.
The following Dojo Kun is taken from the 20 Precepts of Master Gichin Funakoshi, it should be recited out loud one line at a time, first by the dojo's sensei or senior sempai, and then repeated immediately afterwards, in unison, by all of the students in attendance prior to the final bows at the end of each class.
And when you leave your dojo, always be sure and take the meaning of those words out into the world with you. Because it is in the every day world that is outside of those four walls that you train behind each day, that the true meaning of the dojo kun is truly meant to be practiced.
The following explanations set forth the meaning of the Dojo Kun.