The ultimate goal in karate training is to strive for self-improvement through training. It is no accident that perfection of character is the first rule for it is also the most important rule. Through karate training one strives for continual improvement that has no limit and no end. No matter how much one's character improves with continued training there is always room for growth and a continual progression toward character improvement. The human mind and spirit will always have character flaws no matter how much one trains. Through the discipline of training the spirit and of the karateka is continually enhanced and strengthened.
One parallel of seeking perfection of character is in direct correlation of Buddhism. In Buddhism, it is believed that if one follows the teachings of Buddha and puts them into practice in everyday life that upon death the disciple himself becomes one with the Buddha and becomes enlightened. This enlightenment is a state of perfection of character and in effect the disciple in death becomes a Buddha as well.
In karate, one uses the training of karate-do to reach a level of spiritual enlightenment. The ultimate goal being the perfection of character. Perfection being unattainable in life, can only be strived for and thus the journey in karate in search of spiritual enlightenment and the perfection of character is endless, perhaps only achievable in death.
Part of the training in karate involves knowing one's self to a great degree. By knowing yourself you learn to become aware of your strengths, and weaknesses. In doing so, you also become quite aware of your character flaws as well. The first step in perfecting the character is to know what flaws in your character exist. Only when you know yourself and your flaws and weaknesses are you able to focus in on improving them. The more you train, the more you know yourself, the better you are able to work on perfecting your character.
Perfection of character is initially learned in the karate dojo but eventually as the student advances is practiced in everyday life. This is why it is said that karate is not just an activity that one participates in but is in fact is way of life that is practiced day in and day out. The karateka takes these principles and puts them into practice when dealing with his/her family. They are also utilized in the way the karateka conducts his/her self in the workplace. Self-respect, respect for others, working conscientiously, striving for improvement, moderation and balance in one's life. Physical well being and proper diet and exercise are all a part of this as well. These are the practices that one is able to take from karate and apply to life.
Life then becomes the practice of karate, and karate the practice of life
Each Be Faithful
Being faithful applies to many different aspects of karate. The most obvious is in regard to training. One must be faithful in training by training on a regular, consistent basis. If you put yourself on a schedule to train 3 times a week, on specific days you should try to adhere to that schedule. Only by being faithful in your training, will your skills continue to grow at a steady progression forward. It is much more effective to train on a consistent basis. For example, it is much better to train 3 days a week than it is to train 4 days one week then only 2 the following week.
Being faithful to your karate dojo and your instructor is also important. It is not proper to be training at more than one martial art dojo without each of the instructor's approval obtained before training. This also applies to other styles and martial arts disciplines. It is not proper respect to train outside of your primary karate dojo without prior approval. Breaching this rule of etiquette shows lack of respect for the dojo and the instructor according to the protocol of "Reigi". The practical side of the rule is that each instructor becomes fully aware of the abilities and knowledge of the student. Training outside of one's home karate dojo introduces new technique, training methodologies and philosophy that make it more difficult and less effective for the instructor to teach that student if the instructor is not aware of the cross training. For example, if the student cross trains in judo, the instructor now knows that the student has learned the ability to safely fall. Karate technique may be introduced to the student in a karate class that would otherwise be withheld if the instructor were not aware of the judo training. In addition, if the instructor knows of this cross training, class time may not need to be devoted to teaching something to the student that the student may already know.
To endeavor means to try your best with all your heart and spirit. This means that in training you always give your maximum effort both physically and mentally. Whether you are athletic or not does not matter. What matters is the effort put into your training. Not everyone has natural skills to become quickly proficient in karate but everyone can benefit and progress from the training so long as they try. Progression in one's skills and abilities improve at different rates depending on the effort put into your training and your natural ability. So long as one endeavors in one's training, the progression will be such that the ability of the karateka will always improve. The eventual outcome is that one without natural ability that continues to endeavor in training in time will surpass a naturally skilled or athletic karateka that does not put full effort into their training. By the same token, one with natural abilities that endeavor's in training can quickly become proficient in karate.
Whether the karateka has natural ability or not does not matter. So long as one endeavors in training, there are no limits.
Each Respect Others
Respect is one of the core components of karate training. Without respect there is no discipline. Without discipline, karate cannot be taught. Respect is practiced and has many ways in which it is applied in a karate dojo.
Respect must observed by one's self. Self-respect is where the respect must start. A student must have self-respect before they are able to show respect for others. Self-respect starts with a student having some degree of moral character. A student knows that actions taken by him/her are a reflection of their persona and are conscious of this. In Japan, one's actions are also a reflection of one's family so self-respecting actions are always a concern. One's actions are also a reflection of one's karate dojo. A dishonorable action disgrace first one's self, then one's family, and ultimately one's karate dojo. Personal appearance is also a part of respect and self-respecting students will take time to properly groom themselves. Their karate uniform is clean. They take care of their bodies with proper diet, exercise, and rest. They deal with all things in life in moderation. Self-respect is the foundation for the building of a well-rounded karateka.
Respect is given to the instructor at all times. By humbly giving one's respect to the instructor all barriers between the student and the instructor, which could hamper teaching, are reduced or eliminated by the student. The student by giving respect accepts the teachings of the instructor without question and full transference of knowledge becomes possible. The student may not believe that what is taught is correct or perhaps may not be a technique that the student will ever use. The fact is that even if the student does not believe there is great value in what is being taught, there is value nonetheless. By giving respect to the instructor the student is able to absorb any and all value of the training that is taught. Showing your respect to the instructor also gives respect to the art of karate. You acknowledge that what you are being taught is sacred and is not to be taken lightly. By giving respect to the student and the student to the teacher, the student no only learns and benefits but the instructor does so as well.
Respect is given to one's fellow students. The student's interaction with one another is an absolute necessity in order to progress in karate. Without a partner to train with, one's karate training becomes very limited. Each student owes his/her help to one another. In doing so, students are able to teach one another. Respect again allows for an unbridled transfer of knowledge between students. It also allows for interaction to be controlled, anger to be eliminated, the elimination of the influence of egos to cloud judgement, and the thought of revenge to be eliminated for excessive contact. By respecting your fellow student, you in turn will be respected and both sides benefit from the training.
Respect is given to the karate dojo. The karate dojo is given respect for several reasons. One it is the place where karate-do is taught. If what is taught in a karate dojo is to be given respect as are the instructors and the fellow students, the place where it is taught is also given respect. By respecting one's dojo you also give your respect to all who have trained before you that indirectly made your training possible. Respect to the dojo is shown in many ways. When one enters the dojo, one bows. When one leaves the dojo, one also bows. This shows respect to the karate dojo. The dojo is kept clean. By keeping the dojo clean it becomes a reflection of the teaching and training that happens there. A clean dojo is one of the components of a respectful dojo. Dishonorable actions should refrain from taking place in a karate dojo for these actions bring disrespect to the dojo. By giving the karate dojo respect you also give karate respect.
Each Refrain From Violent Behavior
Although the training in karate may seem violent, the true teaching stresses non-violence. Karate training enables the student to be confident in their skills. Therefore the constant human need of protecting one's ego becomes unnecessary. In a verbal confrontation the karateka is able to walk away knowing that if a physical confrontation arose, the situation could be dealt with. There is no need to protect the ego. This protection of ego is what causes many confrontations in the street. It starts with an unkind word, escalates to pushing, and often ends with a fight resulting in injury or death. By eliminating the ego from the situation many confrontations can be diffused instead of escalating into physical confrontation.
In the karate dojo, pain and injury is part of the training. If one becomes angry when an injuring blow is received then revenge and violence follows. With anger comes tension. With tension comes a mental and physical stiffness that reduces one's fighting ability. Anger clouds the mind. Anger during combat causes one to make rash decisions and reduces one's speed and reaction time. Violence in the dojo also is counter-productive to fostering a working relationship with fellow students. By becoming angry with a fellow student, you alienate that student within your own mind. Future learning or training with this student then becomes very difficult or impossible in the future. By controlling violence, as a group, the karate dojo becomes stronger. Violence fragments the group and makes the dojo weaker. Violence that results in injury reduces the number of students and this also makes the dojo weaker as a whole. By refraining from violence in the karate dojo, the karate student becomes better prepared to deal with violence should the need arise outside of the dojo.