by Alan Kandel
In Shotokan karate-do there are five dojo precepts and these are: 1) Seek perfection of character; 2) Respect others; 3) Be faithful; 4) Endeavor; and 5) Refrain from violent behavior. They are referred to as the Dojo Kun.
In the spirit of karate training, when entering the dojo, the world outside of karate training is to remain there, the one outside the dojo, that is, and the reason for this is so the mind can be free of extraneous, inhibiting thought. In other words, as one prepares to practice, one should clear the mind. This is important in the sense that an empty mind then becomes a medium that can facilitate learning in the most efficient and effective way possible, and this idea doesn’t just limit itself to the dojo. It is something that can have relevance in terms of learning in general, whether it’s with regard to martial arts or not.
Contrarily, upon exiting the dojo, the presumption is the martial artist has acquired new information that can now be taken and carried with them into the outside world. (As you read on, it should become clearer and clearer why this is both relevant and important). As long as the training is continued that very process is perpetuated. But what if a person suddenly stops practicing, what happens then? This in no way means that what has been learned in the dojo should be forgotten. This would be tantamount to saying that even if it no longer were to apply, everything we have ever learned over time should be forgotten too.
Strike that last notion as it is utterly preposterous.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I carry the spirit of my karate training with me in life, or something to that effect, and this is as it should be. Meanwhile, in another prior Baby Boomer Sensei blog post I discussed three of the five dojo kun, even if only briefly, and these were: 1) Seek perfection of character; 2) Respect others; and 3) Refrain from violent behavior.
Today I want to talk about the remaining two: 1) Be faithful and 2) Endeavor.
I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t exactly fit that bill – being faithful and endeavoring – in every one of my academic pursuits, but as far as my vocational endeavors went, I poured my heart and soul into practically every job I ever worked. What this exemplifies is the endeavor part. Okay, let’s see how being “faithful” applies here.
One might endeavor or try to do something by giving it his or her all but if in carrying out required duties becomes futile or is done with less-than-scrupulous ideals in mind, then it makes little if any sense to continue in this vein. So, a person can endeavor to perform, say, a task at the best of his or her abilities, but if in carrying the task out satisfactorily and completing the task according to established criteria becomes an impossibility or the tactics employed in doing so are less than wholesome ones, then being faithful to that particular cause or endeavor too makes little if any sense.
Which brings me back to karate practice and martial arts. Practice what martial art you will. Practice (endeavor) with verve (with passion and enthusiasm) and perseverance (with persistence and a purpose) and be true (faithful) to your study. And, in the final analysis, if we carry with us in everyday life not only these guiding precepts (dojo kun) but the three others mentioned previously, not only do I wholeheartedly believe we will become much better people for having done this, but I believe likewise as well that the world will be far, far improved for us having done so. A win-win most assuredly!
Copyright © Alan Kandel. August 5, 2012.