Dojo Kun



(The School Principles of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo) 

1- Maintain propriety, etiquette, dignity, and grace.

2- Gain self-understanding by tasting the true meaning of combat.

3- Search for pure principals of truth, justice, and beauty.

4- Exercise positive personality, that is to say – confidence, courage, and determination.

5- Always seek to develop the character further aiming towards perfection and complete harmony with creation.

The dojo kun is the five statements which are said at the end of the training session. They are like mottoes or declarations. They are beliefs. They are model ideals to aspire to. Some believe that they focus the individual to be a whole person, that they enhance the individual to become more than what he seems. Others may imply that the dojo kun is to teach you how to become the “ideal” karate person.

What typically happens is that at the end of the class the students line up in order of rank behind the teacher facing the front where the dojo kun hangs. The head student says, “seiza”, which in English means “sit in seiza”. “Seiza” is sitting on your knees with your feet under your backside. Some teachers tell the students that one big toe ought to be under the other big toe. The knees should be placed so that two fists side by side can fit between. Otherwise, if the knees are too close together, the seiza position looks too sissified. The head student then chants out each statement of the dojo kun and the students repeat each statement in chorus. After the last statement the head student says “mokuso” and everyone closes their eyes in concentration.When the moment of pause is finished the head student says, “mokuso yame”, which means “meditation finished”, and then “Sensei ni rei”, which means “bow to the teachers”. The students bow from the seiza position to the front line of insructors, and the teachers retirn the bow to the students.

The teachers turn to face the shomen and the head student then says, “Shomen ni rei”, which means “bow to the place of honour” and the teachers and student bow to the front of the classwhere there are pictures of the founder, flags, etc,..The teachers turn to face the students and the head student then says, “Otagai ni rei”, which means “bow to each other. The teachers and students bow to each other.It’s a nice finish to a tough workout. It quiets the spirit and calms the mind and maybe helps refocus the individual on why they go through this physical strain a few times a week.
The reason for chanting out the dojo kun in chorus has many purposes. It helps each person re-affirm the ideas and concepts of karate in their minds. It also may help develop the group as a whole, distinguishing them from others who do not train. This too is a nice feeling. It is one of camaraderie and collective dedication to a similar objective.

It is interesting to note, however, that the dojo kun is not always chanted out during each and every karate practice in dojos in Japan. The dojo kun is a set of principles and they are used to teach the philisophical foundations of this craft to youngsters. When there is an adult class training the dojo kun is not read aloud. Kids need instruction. Adults ought to know better.

Some karate folks feel that the dojo kun is holy writ, that we can’t talk about it, question it, discuss it, debate it, doubt it, or change it. But since the Holy Bible, the Koran, Buddhist Scriptures, are all open for discussion by scholars, theologians, holy men, and preachers; we should consider the dojo kun as equally fair game. So, let’s talk about it.

The dojo kun that we have in Japanese is a very earthy and common sense approach to what karate is and how it should serve humankind. Most of the dojo kun is associated with the individual’s identity. It encourages the individual to discover who they are.

It challenges the individual to remain truthful to what they know to be right and good. It pushes the individual to struggle from within to grow and to develop, to not hold back, and to discover secret talents and strengths within. It admonishes the individual to learn to live at peace with others.

And lastly, it tempers a rebellious spirit with calm thought and harnesses a powerful body with an equally powerful mind.