The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi – No. 1

‘Karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy’

This is the first precept for a reason.  Courtesy  and respect towards others should be part of our daily lives, but for a Karate practitioner they are even more important.

As you enter the dojo, courtesy comes to the forefront of your mind as you bow at the doorway.  From there it continues in how you address the sensei/instructor and the other members of the club – always in a respectful manner. During any partner work both courtesy and respect must be shown by your complete focus on your partner.  This is courteous in that working with your partner should be like a good conversation, both sides paying equal attention.  Giving 100% focus to your partner shows that you respect your partner enough to warrant them with your full efforts in your technique, regardless of their grade or perceived standard.

‘Although we may not be conscious of it, respect implies a deeper purpose – an education in the highest art of living’ (Vincent A. Cruz), therefore in order to be a true practitioner of Karate you must understand the significance of courtesy both in terms of yourself and for others.  In a society of ever-increasing violence and discourtesy, this precept has never been more important to follow. How better to defuse a potentially heated and/or violent situation (in or out of the dojo) than to put ego aside and be as polite and respectful as possible to all others, using the physical force of your karate skill only as a last resort with no malicious intent?

By Karly West

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