Spiritual Development of Individuality in Mind and Body
1) Maintain propriety, etiquette, dignity, and grace: Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo is rooted in traditions, and techniques crossing many cultures and spanning many centuries. This first precept helps to facilitate the proper context and respect every Karateka should have for his or her fellow Karateka and for all those who have gone before. Adhering to proper etiquette helps to maintain a sense of mindfulness in the dojo, and emphasizes the fact that the dojo “place of enlightenment” is a form of sanctuary apart from everyday life. Cultivating this kind of mindfulness also helps students to develop respect for their Sensei, which is crucial for the transmission of martial arts knowledge and for the maintenance of order in the dojo.
2) Gain self-understanding by testing the true meaning of combat: No matter how well refined one’s technical ability has been honed, unless the techniques and principles of Karate are tested in combat, one will lack a vital component necessary for true realization as a martial artist – practical experience. Furthermore, engaging in combat requires a form of courage and self-control that most of us are not used to exercising. Living in Canada, physical confrontation and hand-to-hand combat are not the norms by which most of us live everyday life. When we enter the Shiajo, we are forced to face a very real physical threat, as well as our inner fears and inhibitions to physically fighting with another person. Only by facing these fears, with different opponents over time, can we acquire a sense control and awareness, which is necessary in order to effectively defend ourselves from an attacker in a real-life situation.
3) Search for pure principles of truth, justice, beauty: The aesthetic elements of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo naturally invoke a personal search for the individual karateka in these areas which can be taken and applied outside the dojo to the benefit of many people whom he or she encounters. When this search is brought into the dojo, all karateka benefit. For example, learning the basics of a kata is just the beginning to understanding the knowledge contained in the sequence of movements and forms. Constant practice and internalization of these movements and forms are required for greater understanding (truth) and application (beauty). When a highly proficient practitioner demonstrates their art in the presence of others who can fully appreciate the grace and beauty of their form, energy resonates and both practitioner and audience are affirmed in their art. These principles may be universal, but they still need to be reflected and transmitted by individuals, through consistent practice and refinement.
4) Exercise positive personality ie. confidence, courage, determination: More than half the battle in Karate, as in life, is one’s attitude. If you lose in your mind before you begin, you have already lost. But if you win in you mind and in your heart before you start, you cannot really lose. Courage does not mean the absence of fear, but rather the ability to act unhindered despite the presence of fear. Karatedo has a limitless source of obstacles which all karateka must contend with as they progress in rank and experience. The challenges of proving oneself as a brown belt or Shodan in the ring are no less difficult than the leadership challenges faced by senior Sensei. The individual karateka must learn to act with determination and confidence in the face of conflict and uncertainty up against the objective backdrop of peer evaluation.
5) Always seek to develop your character further by aiming towards perfection and complete harmony with creation: The development of one’s character is just as important of as the development of one’s mind and body, perhaps even more so. A karateka without good character is a poor reflection on other karateka, on the Sensei and on the art itself. Fortunately, the intense demands of Shorinjiryu tend to weed out those who do not seek to positively develop their character.