View Full Version : Is the dojo kun still valid ?

Michael Clarke
31st May 2002, 13:29
In this day and age, when most term themselves either 'Traditional' or 'None traditional' martial artists, I wonder, is the dojo kun still valid?

2nd June 2002, 17:38
If you are refering to the 20 precepts by O'sensei Funaskoshi and ......

If you are studying "traditional Japanese karate" and desire to follow the philosophy and art as O'sensei Funakoshi intended, then yes!

Steve Beale

2nd June 2002, 18:49
Originally posted by n2shotokai
If you are refering to the 20 precepts by O'sensei Funaskoshi and ......

Steve Beale

Different dojo have different kun. I don't think Mr. Clarke was addressing one dojo kun in particular, but the concept as a whole. But maybe he was I don't know.

Bustillo, A.
3rd June 2002, 14:06
I don't quite understand the question.

3rd June 2002, 15:42
I assume most people here recite the dojo kun in a form that has been translated into their native language and not just memorizing a group of nonsense syllables?

3rd June 2002, 18:46
Hello all,
Looks like it falls to me to play a little devilís advocate. Iíve trained in arts where the dojo-kun was chanted daily, and arts that didnít have a dojo kun at all, and I can honestly state it makes no difference in peopleís behavior. People generally come to budo for the ďbuĒ, not the ďdo.Ē Most peopleís behavior will be altered more by the Pepsi commercial they see on TV than by a dojo kun. Thereís an interesting article on the dojo kun on Rob Redmondís site ď24 fighting chickens,Ē which weight the pros and cons of dojo kun and finds them wanting. IMHO, thatís time that could be better spent training. Mortal people will be moral without saying the dojo kun, immoral people will continue to be immoral despite it. About the only real effect Iíve ever noticed is that some folks latch onto it as a method of acting self-righteous.
My two cents, like Kent Brockman.

Josh Gepner

3rd June 2002, 19:53
Originally posted by Zoyashi
Hello all,
Looks like it falls to me to play a little devilís advocate. About the only real effect Iíve ever noticed is that some folks latch onto it as a method of acting self-righteous.
My two cents, like Kent Brockman.

Josh Gepner

I have had two different observations.

I observed an instructor post Gichin Funakoshi's Dojo Kun proudly only to do the exact opposite almost 100% of the time. But hey, it looked cool on the wall and sounded good.

The other is individuals who "claim" to be traditionalists, yet do not want to follow the philosophy (dojo kun) so they ignore and or put down the dojo kun as they want to redefine the art in their own way, but still want to retain the traditional label.

Steve Beale

4th June 2002, 19:58
I kinda think that in training and purusing the bu, you end up learn the do too.

Michael Clarke
6th June 2002, 12:47
Some very good thoughts out there, and I thank you for them.
I was indeed refering to the whole concept of a 'Dojo-Kun' and not the 'Kun' of any particular system or art.
It's interesting to note that my last thread asked about training for the body (Is the makiwara still valid?) and that attracted a lot more posts than this, which is of course about training one's mind (character,heart,hara,soul).
So, and maybe I should start a new thread here but, do I take it that we are more interested in the body than the mind?
Look forward to your views.
Mike Clarke.

Harry Cook
7th June 2002, 00:56
Mike asked if we are more interested in training the body or the mind. I don't think that in general that is the case, but there is a problem in that it is difficult to talk about training the mind/spirit/character or whatever you want to call it without sounding either a little self-righteous or pompous. Perhaps the famous sermon of the Buddha when he held up a flower and Mahakasyapa smiled is apposite when discussing this topic.
Harry Cook

Michael Clarke
10th June 2002, 04:58
Okay, I'll stick my chin out.
To me the 'dojo-kun' should not reflect or suggest things that are not within the reach of us all.
So, when one says; 'Work hard to perfect your character.'
It is the 'working hard' part that is important here, and not the attainment of perfection.
To try.
To make the effort.
For me this is the 'Tradition'.
The dojo kun should not be rules by which only monks can live.
They should be advice we can all find something in, even if we have to struggle to find it.
The physical movements are but the vehicle we use, so in many respects the particular system we train in is less important than the mentality we train with.
It is for this reason that I think having a 'kun' is still valid in the way we try to intergrate the martial arts into our lives.
Harry was right in that talking about this particular aspect of training can often slide into a self rightous conversation about morality and other topics which would be better discussed on a forum called bornagain.com.
The middle way of budo asks that we try to find a balance between body mind and spirit. If we don't have something to ponder on, to fire our imagination, than how else do we change our thoughts?
Mike Clarke.

Harry Cook
10th June 2002, 23:25
I agree. I think that the values found in the dojo kun echo echo much that was good in Western amateur sport. According to an article published in Punch in the 1890s a sportsman is "one who has not merely braced his muscles and developed his endurance by the exercise of some great sport, but has, in the pursuit of that exercise, learnt to control his anger, to be considerate to his fellow men, to take no mean advantage, to resent as a dishonour the very suspicion of trickery, to bear aloft a cheerful countenance under disappointment, and never own himself defeated until the last breath is out of his body."
These values were encapsulated in the poem by Grantland Rice where he said
"For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write your name,
He marks - not that you won or lost -
But how you played the game."
For those who reject an Okinawan or Japanese dojo kun the above words could be adopted as a useful substitute.
Of course these ideas seem quaint or antique to those addicted to the modern business of sport when winning is all that matters, and cheating, drugs, etc are often seen as acceptable means to an end. Perhaps this is the real value of the dojo kun for Westerners; the Confucian values it enshrines can remind us of our own heritage, now abandoned and ignored beneath the masses of hype, crass commercialism and adolescent hero worship which is the norm in professional sport, generally summarised in the expression "nice guys finish last."
You see what I mean? I may be right but I am starting to sound a little pompous!
Harry Cook

3rd July 2002, 08:53
Dojo Kun is still valid...
Sometimes when you're training and you can't take it any longer, when you're studying and your head is going to "explode", when you're down in general nad even when you're not, if you stop a while and reflect about Dojo Kun you'll see how things will become clearer, you'll gain an extra energy to finish the push-ups, etc.

I hope you get to my point...

Just my to cents...

Filipe Magalh„es

Steve C
5th July 2002, 09:19
I've never trained anywhere with a kun, and I don't know that I've missed anything. As people have said, if the general atmosphere or the coach's teachings aren't in accord with the kun, then it gets ignored.

However, everywhere I've trained has had explicit practices for things like respecting your partner, training diligently, etc.

So, I'd say that having some Japanese or Engrish on the wall isn't much good; it's the class itself that promotes a set of values, be they 'win at any cost'. 'respect your fellow students,' 'hero-worship the great sensei!', 'do whatever works,' 'do what's in the syllabus,' or anything else...


PS: That rob redmond article mentioned earlier is at http://www.24fightingchickens.com/shotokan/heresy/dojokun.html

15th July 2002, 14:42
Mr. Cook -

Interesting point.

I started my MA training in TKD in the States and there they had a Kun that was chanted before and after each class. When chanted with everyone I felt it brought us all a bit closer and we were all taking part in a goal.
But know that I have been training in Go Jyu Ryu with no kun chanted in either Kyoto or Kyushu Dojos I do not miss it.

I believe that what the Sensei passes on (bits of wisdom and philosophy) to his or her students is , in it's own way, sort of a Kun to be remember. That is of course if your Sensei is not bonkers.