Thursday, April 2, 2009

ITOSU"s PRECEPTS

Many have read and know FUNAKOSHI's precepts but few are aware of his SENSEI's precepts .They are guides to training and urge one to study the meaning behind the movements .

Karate did not develop from Buddhism or Confucianism. In the past the Shorin-ryu school and the Shorei-ryu school were brought to Okinawa from China. Both of these schools have strong points and I therefore list them below just as they are without embellishment
1. Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used to protect one's family or master. It is not intended to be used against a single assailant but instead as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one by any chance be confronted by a villain or ruffian.
2. The purpose of karate is to make the muscles and bones hard as rock and to use the hands and legs as spears. If children were to begin training naturally in military prowess while in elementary school, then they would be well suited for military service. Remember the words attributed to the Duke of Wellington after he defeated Napoleon, “Today’s battle was won on the playing fields of our schools”.
3. Karate cannot be quickly learned. Like a slow moving bull, it eventually travels a thousand leagues. If one trains diligently for one or two hours EVERY day, then in three or four years one will see a change in physique. Those who train in this fashion will discover the deeper principles of karate.
4. In karate, training of the hands and feet are important, so you should train thoroughly with a sheaf of straw(#)(MAKIWARA). In order to do this, drop your shoulders, open your lungs, muster your strength, grip the floor with your feet, and concentrate your energy into your lower abdomen. Practice using each arm one to two hundred times EACH day.
5. When you practice the stances of karate, be sure to keep your back straight, lower your shoulders, put strength in your legs, stand firmly, and drop your energy into your lower abdomen.
6. Practice each of the techniques of karate repeatedly. Learn the explanations of every technique well, and decide when and in what manner to apply them when needed. Enter, counter, withdraw is the rule for torite.
7. You must decide if karate is for your health or to aid your duty.
8. When you train, do so as if on the battlefield. Your eyes should glare, shoulders drop, and body harden. You should always train with intensity and spirit as if actually facing the enemy, and in this way you will naturally be ready.
9. If you use up your strength to excess in karate training, this will cause you to lose the energy in your lower abdomen and will be harmful to your body. Your face and eyes will turn red. Be careful to control your training.
10. In the past, many masters of karate have enjoyed long lives. Karate aids in developing the bones and muscles. It helps the digestion as well as the circulation. If karate should be introduced, beginning in the elementary schools, then we will produce many men each capable of defeating ten assailants.
If the students at teacher training college learn karate in accordance with the above precepts and then, after graduation, disseminate this to elementary schools in all regions, within 10 years karate will spread all over Okinawa and to mainland Japan. Karate will therefore make a great contribution to our military and our society. I hope you will seriously consider what I have written here – Anko Itosu, October 1908
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- Translator not a martial artist. By "sheaf of straw" he means a Makiwara or "striking post" just another of those difficuties that have been created due to language differences .

"It is not intended to be used against single assailants" .Here ITOSU is warning against makng karate a thing of match ups or challenges or essentially sport type endeavors.Not against it but making it the only purpose .He realized that such contests can not reflect the reality of real violence and violent people.Many of the true interpretations of kata bunkai are bloody brutal and savage and their use employed only under extreme conditions where life is at stake.In that sense bunkai is directed more to control and or escape than using the more extreme methods described.

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