Karate, which translates as "empty hand," is a martial art form and discipline with direct lineage from Okinawa and China and then development in Japan. It is a physical activity where participants learn to use hands and feet for striking and defense. A student learns self-defense and fighting skills and develops discipline and concentration through focused training.
Karate is a challenging physical activity. The karateka develops confidence through newly discovered skills while also understanding, and then working with, their physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses. Shotokan karate is just one of several ryu (styles) that have developed over time. Each approach involves somewhat different techniques and training methods.
Instructors are addressed as Sensei. It is a title of respect and can literally be translated as teacher or someone who has gone before. The title Sempai is utilized when addressing someone who is not the instructor but is more senior in karate experience than you are.
Bowing is a gesture of both respect and kindness. It is not a gesture of submission. The traditional martial art gestures of respect are followed at Sierra Shotokan. This includes rei (a bow) while entering the dojo, at the beginning and ending of each class, and then when leaving the dojo. We also bow to one another prior to engaging in kumite and prior to performing kata.
In every ryu (style) of karate there are principles that act as a philosophy and training guide for the karateka. Ginchin Funakoshi sensei developed dojo kun (five principles) following his arrival in Japan in the early 1920’s. For him, the ultimate aim of karate training was the perfection of one’s character and self-discipline.
At Sierra Shotokan, all students state these principles at the end of every class. The intention is that the individual will hold them in their mind and attempt to live them both inside and outside of the dojo.
Nakayama sensei later added that an additional method of character development was through hard and difficult training. In studying these principles, it is easy to see that they offer valuable life goals.
Seek perfection of character (Hitotsu! Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto)
This is, and always as been, the over all goal of Shotokan karate as stated by Funakoshi sensei.
The following four principles are the foundation for character enhancement and show one how to obtain perfection of character.
Be faithful (Hitotsu! Makoto no michi a mamoru koto)
Keep the proper focus. Stay the course on what ever you seek, while keeping in mind the truth and fairness within you. Be true to yourself and don’t worry about appearances. Be humble and never forget the responsibilities and commitments that you have made to yourself and others.
Endeavor (Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto)
Maintain constant effort in your pursuits. Hard work can result in improvement of attitude and body. Learn limitations and self-control. The quality of the process is just as important as the outcome. Continuous effort results in personal power.
Respect others (Hitotsu! Reigi o omonzura koto)
Live together and improve together. Cooperation can be a benefit. Control selfishness.
Refrain from violent behavior (Hitotsu! Kekki no yuu o imashimuru koto)
Develop confidence and not anger. The goal is self-control and the proper application of energy. Wisely use technique; not just energy and emotion. Anger is most often a waste of valuable energy.