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Funakoshi's Precepts #3

Posted by texperkin on 4 February, 2018 at 23:05

Continuing our investigation into Funakoshi's 20 precepts, here's my take on the third. Any comments more than welcome!


3: Karate is an aide to justice


If you contextualise Funakoshi’s 20 precepts, you’ll realise that he laid them down at a time and place where society as he knew it was crossing over from the Feudal system to that of modern, European-style Japan. The Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century brought about many changes and a profound, if not obvious one was the introduction of the Police Bureau in 1874. Funakoshi (1868-1957) was too young to have seen the actual immediate effects of this event however changes would have been ongoing throughout his life. Therefore, I it is likely that this precept refers to the need of the civilian to step directly into the fray in the aid of justice, especially in support of the nascent official Government response.


In latter times, this kind of response would be and continues to be frowned upon as in Japan and most other modern countries the police service is well trained and resourced. The karateka, no matter how well intentioned can actually be counterproductive in their efforts and suffer the physical harm or prosecution in their pursuit of justice.


Nevertheless, the intention of the instruction remains. Karate training is an aide to justice. By immersing yourself in Karate completely, you will be more able stand up against adversity in the modern world to make it a better place. As good citizens we must always be vigilant in defence of the weak, stalwart in the face of oppression and, to put it bluntly stand up to bullies. Your training must be used for the good of society and to protect those that need it – never to further your own interests.


This is effectively illuminated in conjunction with Kano Sensei’s three levels. Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) was the founder of modern Judo and he and Funakoshi shared a mutual respect. Further his three levels of Judo can be extended to all martial arts, including Karate. Kano Sensei said:


- The objective of the lower of level of Judo is to practice methods of attack and defense.

- Intermediate level (of Judo) is the improvement of the spirit by using every opportunity to practice. By being considerate of things such as observing others' practice patterns, forging the body and spirit through various techniques, and nurturing my own courage, one could say that it is if I am able to control my own body, spirit, and feelings.

- Concerning higher level Judo, using the energy of body and spirit acquired through lower level Judo most effectively, one can say that the world benefits.


Put another way, the higher level martial artist seeks to benefit society through study of the physical and thereby improvement of the character. Through hard and persistent training, Karate can be an aide to justice in society.

Categories: General Karate

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