Forging a Karate Mind


Karate is not a game of points, weight classes or showy demonstrations. It is a martial art and way of life that trains a practitioner to be peaceful; but if conflict is unavoidable, true karate dictates taking down an opponent with a single blow.

Such an action requires strength, speed, focus, control. But these physical aspects are only part of the practice; they are just the vehicle, not the journey itself.

True karate is based on Bushido. In true karate, the body, mind and spirit—the whole person—must be developed simultaneously. Through kihon, kumite and kata we learn to control our movements. But more importantly, we learn to give up control too. We can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remain focused without having
to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still.

This harmonious unity of mind and body is intensely powerful. Even the greatest physical strength and skill
 are no match for the power of wholeness.

The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body. This is the core teaching of Zen, the basis of Bushido, and the of the
 JKA’s  karate  philosophy.


Bushido has been the samurai code of conduct in Japan for centuries. Based firmly on the teachings of Zen, Bushido was intended to help the samurai master their nature and understand their minds and the universe through direct experience—as well as through fostering strength, self-control and wisdom.


Bushido is based on seven essential principles:



seigi :   The right decision and rectitude



yuki :     Bravery and heroism



jin:         Compassion and benevolence to all



reigi :     Courtesy and right action



makoto: Truthfulness and utter sincerity



meiyo:     Honour and glory



chugi:      Devotion and loyalty


Martial spirit and courage were, of course, essential aspects of Bushido. But for the samurai, Bushido's highest goal was complete virtue in thought and action. Each samurai followed a carefully-designed regimen of polite ceremony and etiquette intended to promote such virtue. With its emphasis on prescribed form, Bushido helped the samurai harmonize mind with body, enabling them to maintain a certain calmness, or heijoshin (literally, "ordinary everyday mind"), even in the face of hardship. Sincerity, kindness, honesty, filial piety and honor all formed part of the core of Bushido. And they were the seed from which the karate tradition grew. These attributes, and the wisdom, understanding and peaceful strength they promote, are some of karate's greatest benefits. They are also among Japan's greatest gifts to the world.


The Twenty Precepts of Karate


Before he established the JKA, Master Funakoshi Gichin laid out the Twenty Precepts of Karate, which form the foundations of the art. Within these twenty principles, based heavily on Bushido and Zen, lies the philosophy of the JKA.



Never forget: karate begins with rei and ends with rei (Rei means courtesy or respect, and is represented in karate by bowing)


There is no first attack in karate


Karate supports righteousness


First understand yourself, then understand others


The art of developing the mind is more important than the art of applying technique


The mind needs to be freed


Trouble is born of negligence


Do not think karate belongs only in the dojo


Karate training requires a lifetime


Transform everything into karate; therein lies its exquisiteness


Genuine karate is like hot water; it cools down if you do not keep on heating it


Do not think of winning; you must think of not losing


Transform yourself according to the opponent


The outcome of the fight depends on one's control


Imagine one's arms and legs as swords


Once you leave the shelter of home, there are a million enemies


Postures are for the beginner; later they are natural positions


Do the kata correctly; the real fight is a different matter


Do not forget control of the dynamics of power, the elasticity of the body and the speed of the technique


Always be good at the application of everything that you have learned.


JKA   Techniques: The Inseparable Trinity Lead to Kime


The foundation of karate is the kihon (basic techniques), the kata (forms), and the kumite (sparring). Upon these three rest all technique, all speed, all strength and all progress in karate. They are, in essence, one. And they must be studied as one: without the kihon basic techniques, there can be neither kata nor kumite. Likewise, kata separated from kumite is simply rote movement unseasoned with the knowledge that comes from application. Finally, kumite without kata loses the characteristic agility and effortless smoothness inherent in karate. Kihon is kata is kumite.

At the JKA, we emphasize all three of these equally and simultaneously.

Through years of training and experience, we've developed a unique and unrivalled system of kihon techniques. We put tremendous focus on the fundamentals, teaching scientifically and step-by-step the proper posture, balance and angle of each specific movement. As with most things, continuous repetition is essential, for if you get the fundamentals wrong, there can be no further progress.

After mastering the kihon, you move on to the kata, the core of all karate skills. In kata, there is no wasted or meaningless movement. So we emphasize repeating them over and over again. Through constant repetition, your body learns to move automatically, effortlessly and efficiently. Over time, the techniques become unconscious, rather than deliberate me-
chanical movements. You can do them without thinking, which frees your mind to be still and experience the dynamics of that moment.

At the JKA, we've refined the kata to be more applicable in kumite sparring. Through the techniques learned in the kihon and practiced in the kata, you discover how to respond to situations naturally and freely, and apply your techniques appropriately as the circumstances demand.

And that's when the true power of karate can be known. When your entire being —body and mind—explodes forward and downs the opponent with one blow, it is called kime. Kime is the ultimate purpose of the kihon-kata-kumite trinity.