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“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of character”


Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate, stated that the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of character. In this way, karate may be described as an aesthetic course of self-discipline, leading to enlightenment.

Literally, karate-do is the way of the empty hand. This includes the philosophical notion of "emptying" oneself of improper motives; not merely fighting without weapons. The principles of training go beyond technique and may be applied to ordinary life.

Karate training involves little instruction in philosophy. Students are expected to learn the underlying philosophical principles through hard work and much practice. By following the technical directions of the instructors, the example of the senior students and applying themselves completely to each technique, karate-ka will develop a deep understanding of both the technical and philosophical aspects of karate.

It is said that in karate there is no second chance. Karate-ka are taught to use each technique as if their lives depended upon its successful application. This concept is called ikken hissatsu in Japanese, literally to kill with one blow. However, the real meaning is that a karate-ka must be completely committed to each technique and must apply each technique with certainty, force, decisiveness and without regard to the possibility of failure.

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