The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi – No. 9

‘It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit’

Karate is an endless road seeking perfection, though we know this can never be attained.

As a beginner you train and work hard, but see only a small amount of improvement. You begin to understand the dynamics of the class and the different training practices

, but all feel awkward and unnatural still. You should at this time look at your instructor and those senior to yourself for comfort, as they were once exactly where you are now.

In the middle kyu grades your knowledge has built and you begin to recognise the shortcomings of others as well as your own. This is where many falter as they see an even larger disparity between the senior grades and themselves, believing that they will never get there – the closer you get the further it seems. This is therefore a real test of character. Those who do not quit now will take pride in every step forwards that is made through hard training.

For many, belief is that at black belt they have achieved the final stage and now understand karate… these individuals will generally cease training within 2 years of achieving their goal. The reason for this is that this is actually the beginning. All previous training was preparation (for body and mind) so that you are able to comprehend the lessons that karate will teach. Those who feel disheartened by this will leave, those who feel excitement at the new possibilities and additional knowledge and abilities to be gained will continue and are truly worthy of the belt.

The road past black belt stretches out before you, immeasurable. Your thoughts at having come all this way disappear. Your ego, pride and humility are irrelevant. You realise that all you want is to be better today than you were yesterday, to be better tomorrow than you were today. This is the “do” of Karate-do, the Way of Karate that will last all your life.

This is viewed in Bushido Martial Arts Association as the most important lesson you can learn as it goes the furthest towards perfection of character. We therefore have this message on our black belt grading certificates and to further establish the idea of improvement bit by bit day by day, we do not award dan grades in our interpretation of generic karate. They are irrelevant as this never ending journey is a personal one which in our opinion can never be quantified, instead your shown your skill and understanding in how you train and how you live your life.

By Karly West

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