Just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives.
Gichin Funakoshi, „Karate-do Kyohan”, The Master Text
There is no place in contemporary Karate-do for different schools. Some instructors, I know, claim to have invented new and unusual kata, andso they arrogate to themselves the right to be called founders of „schools”. Indeed, I have heard myself and my colleagues referred to as the Shoto-kan school, but I strongly object to this attempt at classification. My belief is that all these „schools” should be amalgamated into one so that Karate-do may pursue and orderly and useful progress into man’s future.
Gichin Funakoshi, „My Way of Life”
Some young enthusiasts of karate believe that it can be learned only from instructors in a dojo, but such men are mere technicians, not true karateka. There is a Buddhist saying that „anyplace can be a dojo,” and that is saying that anyone who wants to follow the way of karate must never forget. Karate-do is not only the acquisition of certain defensive skills but also the mastering of the arts of being a good and honest member of society.
Gichin Funakoshi, „My Way of Life”
Each year in the month of April, a great number of new students enroll in the karate classes of the universities’ physical education departments – most of them, fortunately, with the dual purpose of building up their spiritual as well as their physical strength. Nonetheless, there are always some whose only desire is to learn karate so as to make use of it in a fight. These almost inevitably drop out of the course before half a year has passed, for it is quite impossible for any young person whose objective is so foolish to continue very long in karate. Only those with a higher ideal will find karate interesting enough to persevere in the rigors it entails. Those who do will find that the harder they train, the more fascinating the art becomes
Gichin Funakoshi, „My Way of Life”
Karate is an art. It must be regarded as such with its entirety of philosophical thought and development of the mind in harmony with the body. If it isn’t thought of this way it is valueless. It is like eating only the bitter skin of the apple while leaving the sweet inner meat untasted. It is this crucial premise that is being overlooked today, and if the tide is not turned, I must predict the demise of the art.Now it is the image of Karate in the world which is at stake. The danger is not in physical violence but in the tendency toward commercialism. It seems that personal profit has a great power to strip everything of its inner value.
Gichin Funakoshi’s ideal, who has come to be recognized as the „Father of Karate-do”, was to advance from jutsu (technique) to do (the way). It has become my mission to attain this goal, but a question appears: What is the meaning of „from the technique to the way?” Through what type of training can you attain this ideal?Karate-jutsu or Karate-do? The difference between both must be very well understood. Karate-jutsu can be considered as nothing other than a technique for homicide, and this is vey emphatically, not the objective of Karate-do. Those who want to follow the way of the true Karate must not only coexist with their opponent but attain unity with him. Their is no question with respect to homicide, neither should there be placed any emphasis in winning. When you practice Karate-do, what is most important is to be one with your opponent, move together and to progress together.
That Karate has come to be identified in the eyes of the public as a „homicide art” is very sad and unfortunate. It is not. It is a self defence art, but to attain benefits, the participant must be completely free of egoistic feelings.
Karate as its practiced today is very different from how it was practiced 40 years ago, and the number of styles, is said to be close to 100. Many schools send instructors abroad to propagate their respective techniques. Even though it can be said that there exist certain groups in America and Europe that, with the object of comprehending the soul of Orient in mind, as a method to counteract the impasse that is the result of the materialistic civilization, put emphasis on the spiritual side of karate, the sad truth is that many styles only teach the art of combat and forget about the spiritual aspects. And the participants themselves who offer lip service to the spirit of the art, have as their real goals the winning of tournaments and competitions.At the present moment, most of the karate followers in foreign countries follow it for it’s combat techniques and one has to admit that the tendency to fight is no less common among humans than in other animals. It is very doubtful that these participants have attained a complete understanding of Karate-do.
Gichin Funakoshi advocated the spiritual aspects of Karate-do and placed much more emphasis in this than on the combat techniques. Moreover, he always practiced what he preached. If he were alive today and saw what is happening to Karate-do today, what would he think? We who strictly follow orthodox karate as a self defence art must do all we can within our grasp to asure that it is practiced in the correct way and that its spiritual side be comprehended as widely as possible.
Karate is like philosophy. Everybody has his own opinion. Who is right? Who is wrong? Nobody can. Each and everyone must try to attain his/her goal and show that they have created something in their lifetimes.
To polish means to face yourself straight, to recognize your weaknesses, to eliminate them, and courageously step forward. This action, experience, and practice is the only way we can improve and free ourselves of our mental blocks, so that someday we will really be able to express our strongest, most beautiful energy on the Earth. Then we can happily leave the Earth. I hope everybody feels this way.
Master Funakoshi felt that, rather than a great variety of kata, it is more important to take a limited number and practice them thoroughly and precisely. This way of thinking can be regarded as basic to the Shotokai.
We must be completely attentive…, always, at every instant.The same thing is true in our everyday lives. Some people think about nothing but money because it is supposed to satisfy your every desire, so for money they lose their honor. Other people want „honors”, and for them they lose their money. Some people have their minds fixed on love and for that they lose both money and energy. And yet happiness is never on just one side.
We must create our lives, free ourselves, become detached, simply attentive to here and now: everything lies in that.
„The moon’s reflection on the surface of the water moves incessantly. Yet the moon shines and goes no-where; it stays but it moves.” A very short poem on the secret of Zen and the martial arts, and also a great koan.
The stream never flows backward. The water slips past, past, past… but the moon doesn’t move. In a contest the mind must be like the moon, while the body and time slip past, past, past like the water in the stream.
Taisen Deshimaru, „The Zen Way to the Martial Arts”