Dojo Kun

Words to Live By

  The Dojo Kun is a set of statements repeated at the end of each training session.
  These statements are intended to guide not only our training, but our everyday lives as well.
  Each statement is preceded by the Japanese number 1. This may seem odd, but this reminds us that each statement is equal in importance.

  The Dojo Kun for the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Federation, written by the IOGKF's chief instructor, Shihan Morio Higaonna :

1. Respect Others.

1. Be Courageous.

1. Train Your Mind and Body.

1. Practice Daily and Protect Traditional Karate.

1. Strive to Reach the Essence of Goju-Ryu Karate.

1. Never Give Up.

  While these concepts seem simple and somewhat common sense, it helps to think further on how the Dojo Kun can be applied to your daily life as well.
  Here are some observations:

Respect others: In Japan, respecting others is a mandatory social custom. In our societies, this simple concept frequently seems to be missing from everyday life. In the dojo, respecting others means to bow (rei) to each other before and after practice and to listen attentively when being taught by the Sensei or other senior students. Outside the dojo, to be respectful to others improves our lives by minimizing conflicts and enhancing our interactions. We are reminded, however, that respect must be heartfelt and not be just a show put on for others, to respect without sincerity is counter to the philosophy of karate.

Be courageous: Many situations, both in and outside the dojo, can be uncomfortable or frightening. If we leave these situations out of fear, we lose the opportunity to conquer our fear and grow as a person. By being courageous, we can improve our lives and attain new skills to deal with everyday situations.

Train your mind and body: Karate training is not just physical exercise. Along with kicking, punching and blocking, the philosophy of karate-do (the way of karate) is also learned. This philosophy encourages the development of a balanced individual, while physically strong, is also polite and modest. The person who follows karate-do will try to walk away from a fight long before resorting to violence.

Practice daily and protect traditional karate: Practicing daily has two purposes. In order to develop proper technique, frequent practice is necessary. More important, however, is the development of discipline. If one can become disciplined enough to practice daily a difficult physical skill such as karate, this same discipline can be applied to other areas of our lives. School, work or the development of other skills greatly benefit from strong self-discipline. Protecting traditional karate refers to the passing on of Goju-Ryu karate unchanged from how you were taught. Higaonna Sensei learned Goju-Ryu karate from An'ichi Miyagi Sensei, who was taught by the founder of Goju-Ryu, Chojun Miyagi Sensei. If an individual instructor decides to change just one aspect of Goju-Ryu karate, it begins to lose the distinctive cultural identity unique to Goju-Ryu karate. As one can imagine, if one change is allowed, many others would follow. In a short time Goju-Ryu karate would cease to exist in it's present form. Higaonna Sensei's intention is to prevent this from happening and to continue to preserve the integrity of Goju-Ryu Karate-do.

Strive to reach the essence of Goju-Ryu karate: The name "Goju" translates as "hard/soft". The philosophy of Goju Ryu is to attain balance in our lives. Within karate, it refers to not only developing the "Go", the strength and power, but also the "Ju", the grace and flexibility of the body. Outside the dojo, this balance is also important. Balance between a strong mind and body, between time spent at work and that spent with family, are examples of this concept.

Never give up: This short phrase, while very simple, requires a strong "ki" (spirit) to implement in our lives. In the dojo, we engage in "ki training" to test our resolve to keep trying in the face of difficulty. During testing, this takes the form of many push-ups after you are physically drained. Outside, never giving up can be applied to situations that seem nearly impossible. When giving up seems the easiest thing to do, one can step back, evaluate a new course of action, and then try again. In this way, perseverance will serve to improve our lives. Remember the age old saying: "Quitters never prosper".

  The Dojo Kun has wide meaning that can be applied to all aspects of our lives. When we repeat each statement after training, it is important to seek the meaning in the Dojo Kun. The Dojo Kun is truly "words to live by".