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Karate Do: The Path to oneself?!

The picture shows a practitioner of Karate Do at the beach during sunset.

“Karate Do is a path to oneself” argues TD McKinnon in his latest column Shotokan Essence. However, most of the people who start this path do not seek to arrive at themselves. Other motives are more relevant for them. That is explains a high number of dropouts. The ones who stay on the path are the ones who are encouraged to follow the Dojo Kun. Thus, karateka should focus on developing and cultivating the Dojo Kun.

Karate Do is a way of training, thinking, conducting oneself; a way of believing in oneself, for life. In other words, Karate Do is a life-long journey of self. The motivating factors for beginning this journey can be many and varied: self-defence, fitness, confidence building, and sporting competition, to name but a few. However, goals change. Your martial path, should you chose to take it, will have many twists and turns along the way, some of them 180°.

One person in 10,000 

After a lifetime of teaching, I do know that if you were to ask every wide-eyed beginner on their first day of training, “Why are you beginning karate training?” their motivations would be many and varied.

However, of 10,000 beginner only 50 percent will still train after the first six months. After one year, only 1,000 will be left. Maybe 100 will reach the third year. Maybe less that than 0.1 percent will earn their shodan. But an even smaller amount will go on to receive their Nidan.

What are the Reasons for the high number of Dropouts?

From all those individuals who begin training, there are those who will find out quickly that it is not what they imagined, and not for them. Some won’t make it past the second week. 

Some will learn a few techniques, maybe even take a couple of gradings, and then life will get in the way. And they will drift away. They may even promise themselves that they will be back. Very few return. 

There will be the achievers: those who will persevere until they achieve that coveted black belt, before moving on to their next achievement. 

There will be the sports people, who excel in the sporting arena. They may even have a relatively long career in sport karate. After their own competition days have run the course they might continue as judges, referees and sporting competition coaches. They are the perpetual sports people. To them, the sport is Karate. 

Then there are the shining few, who may indeed pass through some or all of the aforementioned phases, but who will then don the mantle and tread the cloistered path of Karate Do

How Long does the Path of Karate Do take? 

  • If you are seeking only physical benefits the chances are that, after your physical body peaks, you will lose interest. 
  • If it is a status symbol, the time it takes to get to black belt will probably be your maximum. 
  • If it is about self-defence or confidence building and it doesn’t go beyond that, it may be a short term or a long term thing, depending on your situation and life style choices. But eventually it will wane. 
  • If it is mainly the sport aspect that attracts and holds you, then after peaking in the sport, it will fare much the same as any sport. The young will enjoy the competition, and as they mature they may continue in an official role: sporting coach/referee/judge et cetera. However, not unlike any sporting involvement, it diminishes and eventually disappears. 
  • If you find Karate Do to have an honorable code of ethics, worth aspiring to, and Karate Do weaves itself into your very fabric, you may find that Karate-Do is your path, for life. 

Karate Do Encourages an Ancient Instinct: Honour

Honour, as a noun, meaning respectability and virtue, or a code of conduct valuing those concepts, is an ancient human instinct. Karate Do seeks to encourage and develop that instinct. The Dojo Kun, a set of philosophical rules for the smooth running and necessary control of the dojo environment, is a guiding light to illuminate the way. 

Remember, whatever their underlying motives: this is a group of people who are there to learn how to inflict physical violence on an adversary. When you think about it, that environment could run quite quickly out of control: becoming unruly, aggressive, and possibly quite violent. In my time I have actually witnessed fight training centers, a karate dojo or two, even one Shotokan dojo, where, to one degree or another, this was in evidence. 

The Dojo Kun: Its Origins and Implications 

The Dojo Kun is set in place to modify behavior, both inside and outside of the Dojo. Most traditional Dojos recite a Dojo Kun, or a modified version of that Kun, at least once every training session. Stating the moral code of the Kun before beginning a class can be said to ready the mind and spirit for learning and practicing implied violence, non-violently. Whereas reciting the Kun on completion of one’s training is like the final, centering thought as you finish a meditation. Resetting the mind before re-joining ‘normal’ society. Some Dojos, emphasizing and promoting humility, recite the Kun at both the beginning and the end of a class. 

Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, 1868-1957, the founder of Shotokan, is generally credited with creating of the Dojo Kun. According to Funakoshi Sensei, The Dojo Kun contains the general, guiding principles of Karate. Funakoshi Sensei also set out the Niju Kun: twenty specific and subordinate principles of Karate, encompassing morality, technique, and proper mindset. 

Gichin Funakoshi was the founder of Shotokan Karate Do. He coined the Shotokan Karate Philosophy in a pacifistic way.
Gichin Funakoshi was the founder of Shotokan Karate Do. He coined the Shotokan Karate Philosophy in a pacifistic way.

Others credit Sakukawa Kanga Sensei, 1733-1815, with creating the Dojo Kun. I would venture that Sakukawa did instigate a Dojo Kun. That being said, however, I would also suggest that wherever the martial arts have been studied, seriously, a Kun (a set of philosophical guidelines) is likely to have been set in place. 

The Dojo Kun varies throughout the martial arts fraternities to suit cultural and philosophical differences. Even within Shotokan, now seeded throughout the world, the Dojo Kun has morphed. There remains however a similar, underlining message of humility and respect. 

Karate Do and the Meaning of the Dojo Kun

JKA Dojo Kun

The following is the JKA Shotokan Dojo Kun

  • 一、人格 完成に 努める こと hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomeru koto
  • 一、誠の道を守ること hitotsu, makoto no michi wo mamoru koto
  • 一、努力の精神を養うこと hitotsu, doryoku no seishin wo yashinau koto
  • 一、礼儀を重んずること hitotsu, reigi wo omonzuru koto
  • 一、血気の勇を戒むること hitotsu, kekki no yū wo imashimuru koto 

In the West, particularly the UK, the following is a widely accepted translation of the essence of that Kun: 

  • Each person must strive for the completion and perfection of one’s character 
  • Each person must be faithful and protect the way of truth 
  • Each person must endeavor (fostering the spirit of effort) 
  • Each person must respect others and the rules of etiquette 
  • Each person must refrain from hot blooded behavior (guard against impetuous courage) 

Concise Dojo Kun

When I began my Shotokan journey in Scotland in the early 1970s, I recited a more simplified version: 

  • Seek Perfection of Character 
  • Be Sincere 
  • Put maximum effort into everything you do 
  • Respect Others 
  • Develop Self Control 

Since those early days I have heard several terser versions; the following is just one of them: 

  • Character 
  • Sincerity 
  • Effort 
  • Etiquette 
  • Self-Control 

Karate Do, Dojo Kun and the Path to one Self

The Dojo Kun appears in many styles and arts, varying according to the general precepts of the style. A book could be written on a veritable proliferation of Dojo Kun

Like the many paths ascending the mountain, striving to reach the summit; so too does any true study and practice of the martial disciplines strive to achieve enlightenment. Hence, practicing Karate Do and following the Dojo Kun means to be on a life long path to oneself.

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Practical Karate and the Limits of Modern Shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi doing some Shotokan techniques during kumite

So much of modern Karate is far from practical like the traditional masters taught, especially the Karate of Gichin Funakoshi. Self-defense skills are of minor importance in many schools, and rank codes have become too important. That endangers karate students and leads to delusions. By Jeff M. Christian (Instagram: @jeffshotokan)

“A path is made by walking on it.”

Zhuang Zhou

I believe in Karate. Real karate. Practical Karate. Traditional Karate. I want to practice the Karate that Funakoshi Sensei practiced in Okinawa for practical self-defense.

The picture shows Jeff Christian the author of practical karate article.
Jeff M. Christian analyzes the limits of modern Shotokan Karate

For the most part, I love my training. I am in the dojo four-to-five times a week. I train hard, and take Karate seriously as a discipline of mind, body, and spirit. But the way many dojos operate set people up for disappointment, and even danger. Therefore, I will make four observations, and offer four solutions.

1. Practical Karate Requires Full Contact

Too much of our training in contemporary Karate lacks one key ingredient: Full contact. We punch at the air. We kick at imaginary opponents in front of us, beside us, and sometimes behind us. In kumite drills, we make some contact, but we have to be careful. We are instructed to exercise “control.” Unfortunately, “control” often means, “pull your punches.”

I had this realization recently when my son and I decided to take an introductory Krav Maga class. Krav Maga is a combatives based fighting system. Not so much a martial art as it is a way of defending by attacking. I told my son when we were finished that I would describe the experience as “Full Contact Crossfit.” Trust me when I say that I mean no disrespect in that statement; actually, I mean quite the opposite.

It was a great workout, involving full force punches into a thick pad held firmly by your partner. Knees to the pad. Punches to the pad. Full contact. Hard as you can hit. 

The Lack of Pad Training in Modern Shotokan

Now keep in mind that I have practiced some form of Karate or martial art since I was nine years old. I have grown children now, so let’s just say that I have been at this a while. But because many of my punches and kicks have been directed at my imaginary friend instead of an opponent with a thick pad, my wrists and arms were incredibly sore the next day. Despite some training with a Makiwara and a heavy bag, nothing prepared me for punching a pad a hundred times at full force.

I mentioned my sore arms and wrists to a Karate friend of mine. He suggested, “Well, you were punching the bag wrong.” I suppose that is possible, but I do not think so. I am usually careful to punch with good form the majority of the time. I think instead that I am not training enough with full contact. My suspicion is that I am not alone in this. 

Practical Karate Requires Full Force

Furthermore, we need opportunities in training with opponents attacking at full force and full speed. Obviously we cannot train at such intensity, or people are going to get injured. We have to be realistic. With gloves and pads, along with using handheld bags and pads, we can simulate the need punch with greater force. Still, the occasional bruise is to be expected. 

What if we train a couple of times a week outside the dojo to punch a Makiwara? We need to practice our kicks and punches on a heavy bag. Otherwise, we may believe that we will be able to use Karate in a self-defense situation if the need arises.

2. The Super Hero Delusion

We imagine street fights in the dojo. Our senseis show us techniques to counter punches to the face, kicks to the groin, and multiple opponents. It looks great. But in a real world situation, will these training sessions actually work?

Practical Karate is not Choreography

Rory Miller in his book, Meditations on Violence, offers the most realistic answer to that question. Unless we understand the way the mind and body freezes under stress, a thousand kumite drills will be of no use to us whatsoever. You know the drill. A training partner comes at you at medium speed, and you know exactly what he is going to do. Step forward, punch to the chin. You, in your carefully choreographed kumite technique, step back with the correctly corresponding foot. Cross your arm in front of your body while you raise it just over your head. Open your torso forty-five degrees. If you open it fifty-five degrees, that will probably work, but you should strive for forty-five.

Granted. If you practice this technique for twenty years with multiple opponents at least three times a week, it will probably work in an emergency. I want to make clear that I make this observation as someone who practices such techniques multiple times a week. My criticism is not from the outside, but from deep inside the dojo. But my concern is simple: Will it work?

The picture shows three books which were highlighted in this article. The foster a practical karate approach.
The three books highlighted in this article.

Shotokan Karateka are not Invincible

Our delusions of invincibility complicate this. We are led to believe that if you just practice enough, that you will be able to disable your opponent and walk away unscathed. We fantasize about being Bruce Lee or Yip Man, when in reality, even on our best days, we are more like Jackie Chan’s outtakes. People bump their heads, get hit by opening doors, and slip in the rain. Have you ever been in a street fight? No one walks away without getting hurt.

Even in a controlled dojo setting you are going to get bruised, perhaps cut. You may get a broken toe from time-to-time, even when you know what is coming. No one is invincible 100% of the time. I was doing sparring drills with one of my senseis recently. This sensei emphasized to me just a few months earlier the importance of deepening and extending my front kicks. While we sparred, I landed a few kicks to his midsection, even though he was supposed to be blocking me. We were not applying full force, but we were moving at pretty decent speed. He said, “Man, you are kicking deep today.” I replied, “It’s what you taught me.”

Practical Karate Knows No Delusions

I hope this illustration makes the point that even a fantastic Karate teacher has his limits. We all have off days, and we cannot possibly think that we will block every punch or kick that comes our way. Thus, the solution to the super hero delusion is to forget about it. Give it up. No amount of training is ever going to make you totally invincible. In fact, by not giving into such a delusion you are protecting yourself from future harm, and hopefully avoiding a fight that probably should have never happened in the first place. 

If, however, you find yourself in a fight, your training is going to serve you better if you have been hit, if you have been kicked, and if you have trained under stressful conditions. Unfortunately, most of us do not engage in this kind of training until we are adults. Just because you are a brown belt or a black belt does not mean you can handle every situation.

3. The Rank Delusion

A green belt has finally gained a decent understanding of kata and kihon. She is getting fairly good at the choreography of introductory kumite drills. Practices are becoming more natural for her, which is a big motivation. She keeps training for a couple more years, and finally gets her brown belt. She is on the way to her goal of becoming a black belt. But she is twelve years old, and some of the kids at school hear her talking about her karate skills. They start picking on her in the locker room after gym class. A few minutes later she walks to the nurse’s office while pinching her bloody nose after taking a solid punch from one of the other girls. “What happened to all of those drills that were supposed to keep me from getting hit? I am a brown belt, after all,” she thinks to herself. 

Rank According to Self-Defense Skills

Part of this is our fault in our dojos. Rank used to be a sign of years of dedication and training, strength and agility, athleticism and artistry. It still is in some circles. In my own dojo, you will devote five-to-ten years to get to the point where you are ready to test for black belt. But even so, many dojos no longer emphasize the self-defense side of Karate. And unfortunately, many dojos give rank according to the number of years a student has been coming to class, but not always according to true skill level. This is especially true when it comes to self-defense. We may allude to such things as street fighting techniques at times, but it is not the main focus in many dojos.

Students Want Practical Karate

Which is odd. Ask most Karate students across the levels of experience and they will usually answer the same way when asked why they take Karate: fitness and self-defense.

When I trained in Kyokushin back in the early 1990s, we had four belts: white, green, brown, black. If you wanted a green belt, you had to commit about two or three years to serious training. A green belt was a sign that you had put in your time to learn the fundamentals. You knew your basic kata, and could free spar without getting beaten to death. I think about my green belt in Kyokushin back then when I see many black belts today. Some of them do not have to go through what we went through in the 90s to get a green belt.

If you were a brown belt in Kyokushin in the early 1990s, at least in my dojo in West Texas, you were solid. Only a few brown belts populated our training sessions, most of whom you did not want to spar with because they still had something to prove. And black belts? We had three, and all three were our senseis.

Ranks vs. Traditional Karate?

I am not necessarily suggesting that we go back to such a rigorous ranking code. But I will suggest that we need to be stricter than current norms about our guidelines for rank if we expect rank to mean anything. After all, rank and belt colors are a new phenomenon when it comes to the traditional way of Karate. 

Although probably not the best business model, in order to preserve the true way of Karate-do, we should not give brown and black belts to children and young teens. That is not going to be a popular belief among many dojos, especially with so many small businesses struggling to stay in business these days. But since this is a martial art and not a mere sport, we need to take seriously the implications of Karate for the future by respecting the past. We will enhance Karate as we hold to a more challenging set of standards so that a black belt is not something guaranteed, whether by a two year contract or by the promise of merely showing up to class for a set number of years. 

The picture shows Jeff Christian during Karate class doing a Mae Geri. Jeff promotes a practical Karate approach.
Jeff Christian doing a Mae Geri.

Practical Karate Means Self-Defense

Furthermore, we need to teach more self-defense applications. Our students should be accustomed to fighting under stressful situations, no matter the rank. For children, we need to teach these things, but also the character necessary to be able to avoid fights completely. Anything we can do to stop the kind of bullying described in the opening story of this section will be a good thing. And again, that has nothing to do with rank.

In what is often called “The Master Text” in the evolution of Karate from hidden path to the way available to everyone, Gichin Funakoshi’s work, Karate-Do Kyohan, is a good place to start in order to understand the importance of the full way of Karate that includes athleticism, artistry, and a path of the spirit. And it is just that: A path, a way. “Karate-do” means, “The Way of the Empty Hand.” 

4. Karate As More Than Exercise

Along with self-defense, fitness is often named as one of the primary reasons individuals practice Karate. I am among those who give that reason. Out of all the athletic endeavors I have done, including marathon running, triathlons, hiking, and open water swimming, nothing gives me a better workout than Karate.

That said, Karate is more than exercise, more than sport. It is a way. It is a path of mind, body, and spirit.

Practical Karate Requires Understanding

Can you execute a perfect Yoko Geri? Good. 

Do you understand the Yoko Geri? Is it clear why it is not important that you can kick much higher than your torso, and why you should not lean back during the kick, regardless of how great you may look in the picture? Understanding is more than physical practice. 

Have you spent years disciplining your spirit, clearing your soul, cultivating the virtues of bushido like courage, honor, and respect? This is another matter altogether. As children in the dojo, we bow at the threshold because our senseis tell us to bow. As more seasoned karateka, we bow at the threshold because we hold in our hearts all those before us who have walked the path of Karate-do.

The True meaning of a Black Belt

A black belt is not a sign of mere physical ability after an allotted number of training sessions. A black belt is a symbol of years of dedication an individual devotes to shaping their whole person, the whole karateka. If you ever meet a black belt who is pompous, arrogant, and rude, then you have not met a true karateka. Instead, you met a person whose training derailed somewhere along the way. Status overtook the most important factor in his or her journey: Character. They forgot the first principle of Karate-do as stated by Funakoshi Sensei: “Karate begins and ends with character.” They learned to ignore the truth of the first thing we say in the Dojo Kun: “Seek perfection of character.”

In Joe Hyams’ book, Zen in the Martial Arts, he explores many topics related to Karate as more than mere exercise. His chapter “Anger without Action” makes the point far better than I can. Training in the martial arts is a process of learning self-control, of not acting out of frustration or anger. This progression takes years, even decades of practice simply to understand. Even those of us who have basic understanding of self-control admit to ourselves daily that it is an ongoing struggle. 

Practical Karate and Traditional Karate

As much as I appreciate contemporary approaches to self-defense, this devotion to the virtues and “Spirit of Karate” is a key missing ingredient in many combatives systems that are so popular. We karatekas can learn from their emphasis on practical applications. However, we must let that motivate us to preserve our roots. And while contemporary Karate has more to offer than self-defense, we admittedly may need a reawakening in a area of virtues starting with character formation.

Most of us will never be in a real street fight. That is a good thing. If we never have to “use” Karate, then what is the point of all the training? The point is the process. We enter the long journey of the whole person, and the ways we are shaped as people of Karate-do. We train our physical bodies. Our minds expand as we memorize and focus. We practice virtues in and out of the dojo. The karateka is a karateka whether he or she is in the dojo or not, whether he or she is with a sensei or not, wherever one happens to be on this ongoing path, the authentic way of Karate-do.

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Is Shotokan Karate Effective? About The Effectiveness Paranoia

The picture shows children fighting is sport karate gloves. Thus, we ask the question:Is Shotokan effective?

The effectiveness of Shotokan karate as self-defense has caused plenty of discussions in the last decade. But is effectiveness even important? Are we paranoid when it come to effectiveness? By Jonas Correia

A few weeks ago arriving from Brazil, I had to go through the USA immigration. The immigration agent asked me what I was doing in Brazil. I replied that I went to compete and see my family. Asking me what I practice, I promptly answered: Karate. He asked me if I taught my students how to defend themselves from grappling and submission techniques. I said no, since most of them are children and barely learn the basics of karate. I didn’t find it necessary to teach techniques like the ones he mentioned.

He Questioned My Effectiveness

The truth is that he seemed to be a jiu-jitsu sympathizer and even questioned the effectiveness of my teaching method. Believe me, this conversation happened during my reentry in the US! I looked at his gun at the waist and said, if we are going to think about effectiveness obsessively, I should teach them how to fire too. He smiled. I mentioned that most jiu-jitsu schools only focus on competitions these days. But they also do not prepare you to face two opponents at once.

What does Effectiveness mean?

The point of this text is not to discuss the effectiveness of Jiu-jitsu or Karate. Because we can be the strongest of fighters and a simple microscopic virus can knock you down. So what is your perspective on effectiveness? How many martial arts masters have ever been shot? And how many martial arts masters have died from drug or alcohol use? How can someone who can’t beat himself get into a discussion about effectiveness? Wouldn’t being effective mean everything that makes you survive longer?

The Effectiveness Paranoia of Shotokan Karate

Whenever people ask me about the most effective martial art, I answer: the most effective is the one that makes you happy to be training. The rest is brainwashing and repetitive marketing.

Is Shotokan Karate effective?
Our authors, Jonas Correia, in Berlin. Jonas has an incredible fighting record. Fighting in shobu ippon, 8-point fights, and Karate Combat.

But the paranoia about the effectiveness of certain martial arts has grown so incalculably. As a result, even great masters get carried away with it. It is disappointing to come to a dojo and encounter the abundant collective narcissism that has become a kind of sect. We see this thinking within Karate organizations as well. Due to different founders’ perspectives, the arts constantly change and their style may be totally different in the future.

Train, Whatever Makes You Happy

The best thing to do is to humble down, and recognize the qualities and defects of the martial arts you practice. That makes it possible to turn yourself in an effective fighter. But if you do not care much about it, train whatever makes you happy.

I believe we should think less about issues like this. However, we should train to improve ourselves to become better practitioners. Nothing is perfect and totally effective. Better to learn it this way, to than become disappointed later.

The more we talk the less we train.

Oss.


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by external authors in the commentary section are solely their current opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Shotokan Times and their respective editorial staff and management. The external authors opinions are based upon information they consider reliable, but neither The Shotokan Times nor its affiliates warrant its completeness or accuracy, and it should not be relied upon as such.

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Shotokan Karate as Royal Education

Royal Education has ancient origins. However, it has modern applications; it can generate exceptional leaders. Shotokan karate can be a royal education. We describe in this article how to turn one’s Shotokan practice into a royal education and what benefits it will generate. By Nicholas

What is Royal Education?

Prior to the spread of public education in the 19th century, only the leadership class received education. This type of education focused on much more than academics. Sports, arts, and culture – what we would call “extracurricular” – belonged to the core curriculum of the education of leaders. For instance, Japanese samurai indulged in arts, literature, culture, and sciences. They followed the way of the sword but also cherished intellect.

Sports teaches courage. The arts teach creativity, taste and passion. Culture, on the other hand, generates an understanding of perspective and humility. Therefore, royal education considers all aspects of cultivation of human beings

How to Approach Royal Education?

When somebody applies the approach of royal education, it makes sense to consider all three aspects. One should integrate an athletic endeavor, one creative pursuit, and one cultural aspect in a training session. For the highest effect all of these three learning goals should be transparent for the trainees.

Moreover, even in or after karate classes it makes sense to discuss this three aspects with the karatekas. The results can lead to a deeper understanding of karate and ones own personality.

Why is Shotokan Karate a Royal Education?

So why is Shotokan karate a royal education? This becomes obvious when we consider its physical, aesthetic, and ethical dimensions. Firstly, Shotokan karate challenges the whole body. Through kumite it also teaches students courage, persistence, and competitiveness. Exceptional leadership requires such qualities.

Secondly, kata offers tremendous opportunities to develop a sense of creativity, taste, and passion. Kata movements must be interpreted and turned into bunkai. Moreover, style, grace, and beauty build the foundation of every performance of kata. Therefore, kata also schools the aesthetic eye. Its reduced and efficient nature, thus, leads to a passion for clear and elegant structures.

Thirdly, the dojo kun as well as the 20 precepts of karate stimulate the development of perspective and humility. In general the Do offers a full education in character and ethics. Like no other martial art, Shotokan karate consists of a well refined philosophical foundation. However, students have the opportunity to think the commandments of the Do through and derive at an own perspective and convictions. The physical confrontation during kumite also leads to an understanding of power and responsibility. These are crucial aspects of exceptional leadership.

The picture shows the emblem of Kurian Consulting how hlp with your royal education.
Nicholas Kurian from The Mentor Scholar can help to develop your Royal Eduction.

Benefits of Shotokan Karate as Royal Education

Once Shotokan karate has been understood as a royal education it becomes obvious that it generates benefits beyond the art and enriches your life. We have identified at least three fields in which it beneficial.

1.    Learning

We divorce our concept of learning from our understanding of emotions.  In reality, you must master your emotions to master learning. And, the two most important emotions to master if you want to learn anything are fear and boredom. In Shotokan karate you learn to deal with both.

Executing kihon can become cumbersome and tedious. Repetitions after repetitions challenge endurance and motivation. Strong opponents and difficult kumite combinations also present challenges. To master them means to master ones own demons and inner resistance. Both become crucial to learn other things in life. Because they may be dreadful and boring. Therefore, you need resilience. As a result, Shotokan karate as royal education poses an excellent instrument to learn to learn. And leaders always must learn.

2.    Identity 

What makes these activities so different than academic subjects is that they transform your identity.  When you learn to surf, you become a surfer.  When you learn karate, you call yourself a karateka. Moreover, you development a identity of a worrier. Much of the research shows that having multiple identities offers a powerful source of both creativity, from combining ideas, and resilience, from having strong identities to fall back on. 

What are your identities?  What is particularly powerful about identities tied to the royal education is that it allows people of different backgrounds – different identities – a powerful way to connect. It also gives one the opportunity to perceive and judge a thing or situation from a different angle. Good leaderships is capable to change perspectives and viewpoints.

3.    Entrepreneurship

One of the most important leadership and entrepreneurship skills is the ability to throw a party. By throwing a party one will learn more about group dynamics and marketing by doing this than in any business class one could possibly take. The same goes for dojos, associations, karate classes, tournaments, seminars, workshops etc. Shotokan karate offers myriad opportunities to experience group dynamics and to organize events and structures. To do so one needs courage, discipline, taste, passion, creativity, empathy, and a stable moral and ethical code. The royal education of Shotokan karate, therefore, can create excellent leadership personalities.

Shotokan Karate as Royal Education?!

Shotokan karate have a tendency to underestimate the effect of their art on personal skills. But Shotokan poses an exceptional means to acquire leadership skills and to become a leader. As a result, we highly encourage every karate instructor to understand his classes as a royal education. Because Shotokan stimulates human beings in a comprehensive way. It offers them vital learning experience to become more courageous, creative, passionate, humble, and precise in their judgements. Therefore, the royal education of Shotokan can produce excellent leaders and mentors.


Do you want to know more about royal education? Follow Nicholas on his website The Mentor Scholar.

Opener picture source: Von Felice Beato – From the English Wikipedia. Origin source unknown, free, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53809

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PTSD and Shotokan Karate: A Personal Journey

In recent years karate has proven to be an effective and useful part of the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But what is PTSD? It has been known by many names for centuries: nostalgia, battle fatigue and shell shock and more recently, a mental disorder.  But today it is classified as a trauma and stressors-related disorder. By François Lavigne

The Causes of PTSD

The exposure to situation of death or the fear of death cause it.  Its effects last long.  In some cases, becomes chronic (C-PTSD). Patients who suffers from the chronic version of the disorder may experience serious symptoms daily and often for the rest of their life.  A person with PTSD re-experiences the trauma through intrusive and recurring memories, vivid images and nightmares. Those memories cause intense reactions, such as fear, panic, heart palpitations, sweating, hyper vigilance and many other symptoms.  Moreover, it results in certain behavior traits:

  • over alertness,
  • insomnia,
  • easily irritation,
  • unable to concentrate,
  • easily startled,
  • constant lookout for possible danger, and
  • avoidance of activities, places, people and thoughts that remind him or her of the trauma.

In the case of C-PTSD, it can lead to a feeling of emotional numbness, loss of interest in day-to-day activities and social detachment. PTSD sufferers often develop other problems, such as

  • drug addiction,
  • alcohol abuse,
  • severe anxiety,
  • depression, and
  • engagement in high-risk behaviors.

As a result, PTSD creates a state of living in a near-perpetual state of fight or flight. 

Shotokan Karate as a Treatment of PTSD

The treatment of PTSD varies with the underlying trauma of the disorder.  Success also varies, depending on its severity.  Health professionals try to deal with both the underlying cause(s) and the specific symptoms. 

Here: karate comes in.  It has been shown to be quite effective in dealing with some of the most debilitating symptoms of PTSD, such as inability to concentrate, recurring memories, intrusive thoughts, anxiety and difficult sleeping.  In fact, health professionals include more often some form of martial arts as part of the management of these symptoms.  Traditional Shotokan karate, because of its emphasis on the “spirit” or “do” aspect of the discipline, suits very well to help people with PTSD.  Despite that, PTSD sufferers still face a number of challenges during training, difficulties that can undoubtedly be overcome through more awareness and dialogue within the greater Shotokan karate community. 

My Journey With PTSD

I decided to learn karate as a young man. At the time I did not know I had PTSD.  This was the 1980s and PTSD was still, for the most part, viewed as a condition affecting people who serve in the military. Not even police and other first-responders universally fit the definition yet. I suffered severe and prolonged physical abuse from early childhood into my late teens. It only stopped when I left home. I joined Minoru Saeki Sensei’s JKA Dojo in Ottawa when I was in my early twenties.  The abuse had severely impacted my self-esteem. I believed that if I learned karate I wouldn’t feel scared and a coward anymore.

I had just joined Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).  Karate fit naturally, since I worked in law-enforcement. I worked in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism. I quickly found that Shotokan karate offered more than just learning to punch and kick.  The spiritual side to Shotokan, the Dōjō kun struck a chord with me and the camaraderie inside the dojo, these things taught me to look inward, to nurture inner peace. 

How Shotokan Karate Helps Me to Cope With PTSD

When I train, I leave the world behind. The voices in my head become silent and I think only about the training. It works like closing a door to a noisy room and embracing that serene feeling that follows. Over time, I came to view the dojo and my fellow karatekas as a refuge and a family. Karate wasn’t just a sport or an activity.  It was a way of life. We trained hard. Saeki Sensei has high standards and high expectations. Tanaka Sensei came every year.  Training with Tanaka Sensei was intense. Saeki Sensei and Tanaka Sensei pushed us to learn all the essential components of karate, including clarity and peace of mind.  I learnt to control my mind and my body in ways that brought relief to the chaos of my life. 

Karate never came as easily to me as it comes to some others. But then, I did not understand then that PTSD was the cause. I always felt inadequate. When Sensei looked my way, I felt overwhelming anxiety. I still often do. Examinations challenged me in particular. The stress triggers my lack of self-confidence. During regular training I did well enough but I couldn’t focus during examinations. My progress through the Kyu´s therefore was slow.  I trained for a number of years, reaching fifth kyu. 

When the Setback Happened

Then, a terrible event occurred that changed my life and took me away from karate for years. On June 23, 1985, two bombs exploded. One, in an Air India flight that had originated in Canada. A passenger plane exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 people. The other bomb, on a flight that also originated in Canada, exploded at Narita Airport in Japan, killing two baggage handlers. 

331 people died because of a conflict between Sikhs and the Indian government. I felt partly responsible. As a member of Canada’s security agency, it was my job to prevent these kinds of things. At the time I worked as a desk officer with responsibility for that part of the world. I wake up every morning to the sound of 331 people screaming in my mind. It is better now. Most mornings the screams are just a whisper, but they are still there. I know it is not reasonable to believe I am responsible for their deaths. But that is how I felt – how I still feel. My job was to protect people and I failed these 331 men, women, and children and their surviving friends and relatives.

The Diagnose PTSD Takes Long Time

Like many people, who suffer from this disorder, it took years for a diagnose. The nightmares, the anxiety, the mood swings, hyper vigilance, the anger, these things made it difficult to function.  In the late 1990s I could no longer work. Then, my marriage fell apart. The health professionals diagnosed me with depression and later bipolar disorder. They prescribed numerous medications but none of them helped. 

Something inside me told me they were wrong about these diagnoses.  I knew there was something else going on. I just didn’t know what it was.  Finally in 2003, the doctors diagnosed me with PTSD. But usual treatments turned out to be useless. I had been suffering from this disorder for too long.

Difference Between PTSD and C-PTSD

There’s a difference between PTSD and C-PTSD.  PTSD sufferers have a reference point: the life they knew before the trauma. That helps them heal or manage their symptoms. Chronic PTSD sufferers, people, who like me experienced prolonged and repeated trauma from a young age, have permanent changes to the “reptilian” part of their brain, making it difficult to treat. As a result, I do not have a reference point.  Therefore, C-PTSD can only be managed not healed.

PTSD Made me Stop Karate

Rejecting pills, I started psychoanalysis. It works more effective in helping people manage conditions like C-PTSD. Part of the psychoanalytic process includes physical fitness. So I returned to Saeki Sensei’s dojo. But I faced the same problems as before, except their intensity had grown. I knew I improved, but some aspects of the training acted as PTSD triggers. I tried hard to overcome these obstacles but I did not succeed. The positive effects of training kept being undermined by the negative ones. It was on the occasion of yet another exam, which I completely botched, that I – again – left the dojo. 

Despite my love of karate, despite the peace of mind I experienced while I trained, the focus, despite training being one of the very few things that cleared my mind of intrusive thoughts and fear, there remained obstacles that made me feel like a failure.  

I never spoke of the PTSD to Sensei. I should have. But I didn’t. To others, someone with PTSD looks and acts the same. They function as long as nothing triggers the PTSD. Their behavior changes in the blink of an eye if something, a sound, an image, a word, triggers an episode. Even now, after years of therapy, there are days I can barely get out of the house. I am extremely uncomfortable in crowds, especially noisy ones.  Some images and sounds trigger terrible thoughts. Being in airports is pure hell.  Karate training seminars can be a challenge. All those people can overwhelm me and trigger intense anxiety.

How I found My Way Back Into the Dojo

For the next ten years, I never stepped back into a dojo. I managed my PTSD by keeping stress down to a minimum. I was awarded a veteran’s disability pension. My life felt to some extent, normal. I even met someone special.  My future wife, Daniela who is from Zurich, Switzerland. And so in 2014, I moved there. I also returned to therapy and again, it was suggested I get physically active. It would help with the insomnia. I mentioned to the therapist that I had trained in karate years before and he urged me to take it up again. He told me that karate, martial arts, had recently been shown to be quite helpful in managing PTSD symptoms. That’s when I found Seikukan Karate Do, and Mirjam Sensei.

Mirjam Sensei’s dojo is a haven. I am comfortable in our group. Like other dojos, we are a family of sorts. Familiar faces meeting regularly to train and learn. I can manage the PTSD there well enough. It still flares up but I can deal with it.

The Dojo is Important to Cope With PTSD

This time around, the experience is more positive. With the help of the therapy I manage much better and I feel I am making more progress now than I ever did before. When I kneel for Mokso and clear my mind, the outside world disappears and all I see, feel and hear from then on are the dojo and Sensei’s words. I focus on improving my technique, on pushing my body and mind. Also, I reach for those moments when everything comes together. I truly feel the Do and I feel at peace. Mirjam Sensei is an amazing teacher. She is very technical. She explains the techniques in detail, the importance of basics, the Bunkai. I am proud to be one of her students.

But that doesn’t mean I do not still face significant obstacles. Examinations continue to be a major problem. They are a trigger, a very persistent trigger. Recently I was in Bern for an examination. It was an unfamiliar environment with hundreds of people and I failed the examination miserably. I couldn’t think, couldn’t count to five! Nor, didn’t I understand commands. I was sweating so much I couldn’t see. My eyes were burning. It was humiliating, especially considering how hard I had worked with Mirjam Sensei and others in our dojo to be prepared for the exam. I felt I let Mirjam Sensei down. 

Will PTSD Hold Me Back From Reaching 1st Dan?

I know I am ready for my third Kyu but because of the PTSD it may well be forever out of my reach. My therapist says we can work on that trigger but there is no guarantee I can ever overcome it. I hope we can work through it because achieving my black belt in Shotokan karate is a dream and a goal I have set for myself; a way to prove to myself that the PTSD does not define me. But I may also have to face the reality that it may remain out of reach.

One thing I do feel is that lack of knowledge about what PTSD is and does it is a significant problem. No one that I have spoken to inside the local karate organization really understands how it cripples. I believe that had my examiners understood the nature of my disorder it might have made a difference in how I was judged. I don’t mean that I would have been graded differently but perhaps some accommodations could have been found that would have prevented me from experiencing a panic attack. At least then, I am sure, I could have done the examination. As it stands, its possible that PTSD now stands in my way of making any more progress. 

What I wish for!

My hope, in sharing this, my personal journey, my experience living with PTSD is that others will recognize themselves, too. That others also appreciate that Shotokan karate is an amazing and rewarding tool for managing PTSD. I hope it will lead to a dialogue about how karate can do more to help PTSD sufferers reach their goals.

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Money in Shotokan Karate: Insights into a Difficult Relationship

Money and Shotokan Karate have always been a difficult relationship. But they do not have to be, if money is treated right. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Money in Shotokan karate has been causing many discussions. Observers have accused associations, instructors, and dojos of exploiting the art of Shotokan to become rich. They also associated the foundation of more and more Shotokan organization in the last 50 years with greed. The assumption: Famous instructors set up their own association as cash machines. While in some cases this might be true, one can plausible doubt this assumption, on the other hand.

But I will discuss some foundational questions in this article. Because the relationship between money and Shotokan karate is more complex than many critics take into account. I discuss the following questions:

  1. Why does money in Shotokan causes popular outrage? Does it cause harm?
  2. Why is money used in Shotokan at all? Do we need money in Shotokan?
  3. How to mitigate the tension money causes in Shotokan? How can one judge, whether an organization, dojo, or instructor focuses too much on making money?

Why Does Money in Shotokan Causes Popular Outrage? Is It Harmful?

Shotokan karate is not the only art and/or value-driven system that struggles with money. The conflict between money and other values dates back to the foundation of physical currency in ancient times itself. Jesus Christ, for instance, became famous by what is called today as The Cleansing of the Temple. The bible writes:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Matthew 21:12–13

What happened? One day, Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and became outraged about all the merchants and money changers, who strolled around the temple and tried to make money. He felt that the sacred place of God should not be humiliated with profane money. Hence, he kicked every one out of the temple, who wanted to exploited it for business purposes. Money should not have the same importance as God.

Such an understanding of a sacred sphere, which shall be protected against the harmful and disgraceful effects of money, can be found in almost every religion, philosophy, and society. Therefore, Shotokan is not an exception.

Money Corrupts Other Values

Today, the subject of social and moral philosophy deals with the relationship between money and other value systems. Especially, Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and Michael Sandel from Harvard University have contributed to a better understanding why money causes popular outrage. In short, both argue that money corrupts other values.

To make this abstract idea a bit more tangible, let us imagine a medical doctor. He follows – usually – the moral principle of the Hippocratic Oath. The Oath says in the third paragraph:

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.

Hippocratic Oath

Therefore, the Oath obliges medical doctors to increase the health of their patients under all kind of circumstances. It also consists of a very important element. Readers easily overlook it: It says “to my ability and judgment”. So, not wealth and purchase power determine the type of treatment or whether a treatment takes place at all, but the skills of the doctor. As a result, the moral value of altruism becomes superior in this understanding then making money.

Money Can Undermine Fairness and Justice

Why is that? Because it Walzer and Sandel argue: It calls to our conscience of fairness and justice. One can become sick without intention. A doctor, who takes monetary advantage of that exploits the bad luck of people. Such a behavior undermines trust, fairness, justice, and solidarity. If everybody would only strive for their own advantage one could trust no one. People would become other peoples wolf (Thomas Hobbes). As a result, society and community would fall apart.

Just imagine you would be seriously sick and a doctor, who has a cure, would withhold it from you until you pay him? And what if you do not have the money? Would his behavior clash with your sense of fairness? And what if you die because he withholds the treatment although he could have cured you? Would you feel in the moment you die that you have deserved it because you are poor? Most people would deem such a case more than a failure to render assistance. The doctor intentionally took your death. So, if money is the most important factor for a doctor the Hippocratic Oath becomes corrupted and degraded. In other words: If money becomes sacred all other values become profane. Money then turns from an means to an end.

Money Corrupts Also the Values of Shotokan

In a similar way, but less serious, this scheme also applies to Shotokan (but also to teachers, judges, police(wo)men, firefighters, scientists, social workers, soldiers, officials etc.). The agreement between Shotokanka is the perfection of character as codified in the dojo and niju kun. Thus, they agree upon to follow certain ethical rules like honesty, fighting spirit, respect, and seeking truth. Hence, every karateka should place them as priority. The reason for that lies in the conviction that following this rules leads to a more balanced character as well as civilized society and community.

But what if somebody seeks to make money in the first place? Then, all these values become corrupted. Respect is only paid to the highest bidder or potential customers. The value of honesty and truth have to go out of the window as well. Because making money works best in asymmetrical relations: One party knows more than the other. Honesty and truth mean that this asymmetry will be reduced other the time. Everybody can become a master.

In conclusion, business man or woman try to maintain the asymmetry by not disclosing everything they know (secret knowledge). Therefore, a Shotokan instructor, who strives for money more than for the Do, will withhold certain insights into the art in order to have an edge. He will also teach only what satisfies his students and not what is necessary. They will exploit every revenue stream. They do not care about character development but about wallets. As a result, McDojo´s emerge.

Opponents Fight Against the Negative Effects of Money in Shotokan

The opponents of mingling Shotokan with money try to avoid such situations. For them, the Do and all the values which come with it, shall be deemed and treated as sacred. They protect this sacred values against the profane value of money. Thus, they criticize the intrusion of money into the sphere of Shotokan when ever it takes place. This has clearly a positive effect on Shotokan. Values and their execution have still a high priority in many associations and dojos.

But the fight against money can become double-edged sword. Because a professionalizes system needs money to operate.

Why is money used in Shotokan at all? Do we need money in Shotokan?

Money has negative traits. It can push other values out of their sphere. It also offers a means to turn human beings, the nature, and animals into commodities. On the other hand, it has certain positive features. It makes relationships and processes possible which could not become reality without its existence. For instance: Professional instructors and associations.

In a world without money most members of a society have to hunt, gather, or work as a farmers. Social scientist call such a system a subsistence economy. A complex division of labor like today could not emerge. Exchange would be based on barter. To save up something in order to spend or consume it later poses a difficulty. The most people would work to stay alive. As a result, only feudal lords could effort instructors like the daimyo did with their Samurais in medieval Japan.

Positive Features of Money

In comparison to a subsistence economy a money system has some advantages:

  • Money works as a means for exchange;
  • It can be easily divided in different sizes;
  • Money stores economic value;
  • It transmits economic value.

Imagine you take part in a seminar with a instructor from abroad. Instead of paying money you barter. Somebody would bring potatoes, others pork, and so on and so forth. However, the instructor neither likes potatoes nor pork but rice and fish. Bad luck for him because they are not to your disposal. The instructors would have to carry all that stuff safely back home, too. He had to travel by ship because he would have a container full of potatoes and pork. Some of the potatoes would rot and the most of the pork he would need as payment for the cargo company because it takes 50 days from Europe to Japan on a container ship.

No instructor would go on a journey like that. All that would be way to difficult and inefficient. Therefore, no relationship would take place. With money, on the other hand, he or she just needs a bank account. The hosting party transfer the payment and many problems would be solved.

Without Money no Professionalized and Global Shotokan

While this example exaggerates and we are far beyond the 15th century it shows one thing very clear: In order to have professionalized instructors, associations, and dojos with a sophisticated level of Shotokan skills money is a necessary means. If one cannot make a living through karate the standard and skill level stays very low. Professionalized in this regard means that somebody works full time, has a certain education, works based on standards, and fulfills specialized tasks others cannot fulfill. And without such professionals Shotokan would maybe not exist or not on a global scale.

A system of volunteers, in instance, could not deliver similar services like a professional one. Because the volunteers must work most of the time somewhere else to make a living. Therefore, they can only spend a very little amount of time for practice and for their voluntary work. In addition, no volunteer could effort to travel the world to give seminars like many instructors do.

To be a global and professional system Shotokan must use money. Its features (storage, exchange, divisibility) make a certain skill level as well as international exchange possible. I sum, money works as a means to reach the end of Do.

But how can the negative aspects of money and its positive features be reconciled in a way that it only has positive effects? And when reaches money the point where it becomes destructive?

How to Mitigate the Tension Money Causes in Shotokan?

As mentioned before: Many systems have the problem to use money and must avoid to become corrupted by it. Practitioners, law makers, politicians, as well as social scientist and philosophers have tried to find a satisfying concept to solve this dilemma. To understand the solution it is sense full to go through an analytical scheme developed by German sociologist Uwe Schimank. It consists of five types of organizations and five stages of their orientation towards money.

Money is not an issue

Money comes in without struggle because of a patron, subsidy giver, or a gigantic endowment. People in this organization only follow their actual values like curing disease, producing art, teach, or practicing karate.

Losses of money should be avoided

Money comes in without struggle but losses should be avoided. This applies very often to public transport authorities. They should avoid losses. But if losses take place it is more important whether the organization offered enough services especially to citizens in need.

Losses of money must be avoided

Money comes in but the budget is restraint. Therefore, the management must avoid losses under all kind of circumstances. Schools, museums etc. are in this group. The important thing to note her is that the people working in this organization are also restraint. They must work in order to avoid losses even if it corrupts their values. For an karate instructor that could mean that he only teaches where his costs are fully covered spares poor countries or dojos out.

Losses of money must be avoided and gains should be generated

Money comes in but limited. On the other hand, the stakeholders appreciate the generation of more money. In this organization the employees are limited in their behavior in two ways: Firstly, they must work in a way that losses are avoided; Secondly, they should work in a way that their organization also generates a surplus. Applied to a karate instructor: He only teaches where the costs are fully covered or even better: He only teaches where the host pays more than the actual costs.

Gains are the only aim

Money comes in without or with struggle – it does not matter. The only purpose of the organization is to make money. Everything is an investment and should generate a maximum return. Therefore, the members of the organization will only do what sells. This stage can be called the McDojo Level.

The Trouble Begins at Stage 3

So, what can we conclude from this typology? The difficulties begin at type 3: Losses must be avoided. As a result, money can begin to unfold its corruptible effect. For instance, a dojo faces financial struggles and cannot afford to loss students. Under this kind of circumstances the instructor might become willing to let some rules slide in order to keep students. Of course, it depends a lot on how instructors deal with this situation and how many workarounds they can find. But at this stage money has become important and must be part of the equation for an instructor.

However, even at stage 4 instructors can find solutions without sacrificing the Do. Instructors can open new revenue streams like additional courses, merchandise, or getting another martial arts into the dojo in order to share costs. External funding and co-operation also workout very well. All that can mitigate the economic pressure without corrupting the Do.

Type 5, on the other hand, means: Game over for Do. Here the Do becomes pushed out of the equation. As a result, the organizations focuses solely on money making. The only reason to bring the Do back in is to sell it as a product. In other words: Do becomes a means to the end of profit-maximization.

How to Judge Whether It is Only About Money?

How can one judge whether they he or she is a member of an organization of type 5? The answer must be: It can become difficult to judge, because the organization focuses on marketing and in the creation of an illusion of true value. They know how to sell their product and attract students. They know more about this methods than about Shotokan. Therefore, the numbers of revenue streams, the demeanor of the instructors work as good indicators, and how much it adapts to the market. Some questions to investigate are:

  • Does the organization exploit every option to make money?
  • Are some sources of income off-limits?
  • Does the instructor criticizes students or does he/she only praise?
  • Is the instructor willing to put some pressure on the students?
  • How many times has the organization changed rules in the last five years?
  • What are the reasons for the rules in general and the changes in particular?

Conclusion

If one or more of these questions show an indication that justify suspicion, one should ask further questions or considering to move to another dojo. In some countries, organizations can also apply for a non-profit status. This status comes with specific guidelines and a regular evaluation. For instance, human service providers in the United States must be accredited by the Council of Accreditation (COA). To become accredited they need to comply to certain non-profit standards. In Germany, organizations can apply for the status of common public interest. That means that they also have to comply to certain rules about founding, management, and revenue streams. To watch out for such accreditation can also be a good indicator to not end up in a McDojo.

While money will always cause struggles in the field of Shotokan it does not have to be the end in itself. It can work as a means in order to reach the end of Do.

 

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The Shotokan Times Supports UNICEF

The Shotokan Times proudly announces its support for UNICEF. From today onward, it is going to donate 10 percent from every item it sells in its newly opened shop to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Managing director and chief editor Dr. Christian Tribowski commented this step as follows:

“Shotokan Karate has the paramount aim to civilize mankind and to make the world a better place. Physical, mental, and ethical education, equality and justice are its core values. We at The Shotokan Times are highly committed to these values and to turning them into practice in our daily work.

However, a huge number of children worldwide live in poverty, under constant threat of war and crime, as daily victims of abuse, neglect, and discrimination. Children are also the weakest group of society and cannot protect themselves. To provide them with an appropriate education and to fight for the enforcement of their rights we are going to support UNICEF.

As Gichin Funakoshi wrote in his 20 Precepts of Karate Do: “Karate is an assistance to justice”. Therefore, we assist UNICEF in its endeavor to serve justice to children worldwide.”

The Shotokan Times opened an online shop in partnership with spreadshirts this week. It offers Shotokan clothing and merchandise. From every item it sells The Shotokan Times is going to donate 1 Euro to the German UNICEF branch. The branch supports child protection, support, and education projects world wide.