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The Spiritual Legacy

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The Spiritual Legacy.

After studying Karate for a little while most students will have come across the name Gichin Funakoshi. Some will even have come to recognise him as the father of modern Karate-do. However, too few will go on to realise that the Masters’ true legacy is not the fighting art but the moral and some might say spiritual guide that lies at the heart of Karate-do.

Gichin Funakoshi once said, “The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.” On reflection it appears he never intended Karate to be the end means but a method by which we improve ourselves. It is a pity that this, his life long stance, seems to have been superseded by a desire to advance through the grading system as quickly as possible.

To aid us in our study and development of Karate and our perfection of character Gichin Funakoshi left us twenty guiding principles. These principles are as relevant to our conduct in everyday life as they are to Karate.

Below is his first principle with an interpretation and annotations. My interpretation need not be correct nor are they intended to be doctrine but purely food for thought. Also remember to Master Funakoshi Karate was his way of life and as such wherever you see written “Karate-do” it is just as relevant to substitute “life”.

Principle – 1

“Do not forget that Karate-do begins and ends with rei”

So first, what is Rei? Rei is often translated to mean respect but as is often the case with translation between Japanese and English a degree of essence is lost in the void between the marked cultural differences of East and West.

Rei is more than just ‘respect’. It is your attitude toward others and yourself. It is similar to the axiom, “treat others as you would wish to be treated”. However it’s even more because as I stated it includes your attitude towards yourself.

In the Dojo a martial art without rei is just violence; superior physical strength without rei is brute force; and to practice without true diligence is just going through the motions.

In the Dojo to show true rei you must treat others with concerning to their abilities and physical differences to yourself. You should show concerning for yourself and train with diligence to improve. Not to do so shows a lack of respect for your Sensei and yourself by accepting lower standards for yourself.

Outside the Dojo without concerning for others and yourself you cannot show respect or expect to be respected.

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 January 2017 13:42