Perfect one's character:
Do not harbor hatred and bitterness. Negativity breeds negativity. Love one another. Enough cannot be said on this.
Dedicate oneself to others:
And not just to oneself. Selfishness leads to hate, which leads to anger. Anger consumes all in its path and is never quenched, except by effort, which rebuilds. This may be one's own effort, or the effort of another, changing your nature and your life from the inside out. This will influence those around you.
Uphold honor, bravery, and justice:
In these you will find right paths. Selfishness corrupts. Patience instructs. Only time will tell.
Never stop learning:
Always consider following right paths. Think not on the way of life or death. Do not settle for less than truth, or you will be deceived. Letting go of life too quickly is not always honorable. Let go of concern for your life or death; seek only honor and truth. Focus only on these, then pain and deception turn into lessons, or blessings. You must always seek greater understanding, so you may seek greater truth. 'Obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of your goal.' - Anonymous
Obtain victory without conflict:
The paramount of skill is victory without conflict. Preserve the whole using your empty hand. You must practice preserving the whole in every thing.
'The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.' - Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate
The underlying principles of karate-do (Way of the Empty Hand) include not only self-defense, but a system of learning that provides one with a tool for self-improvement. Its accessibility is shown by its ability to be practiced hard or soft, by nearly anyone, and nearly anywhere, even in one's own mind. Its precepts and discipline can lead us on in the difficult times of our lives. This is the connection of body, mind, and soul.
'There is no first strike in karate.' - Gichin Funakoshi
Karate-do is a way of life that teaches one to be the best he or she can be, in spite of and because of the worst situations that one faces. Karate is a code of conduct that avoids conflict; its level of force is only stepped up if absolutely necessary. In this way, karate may be used to defend oneself and others without striking a single blow.
Way of the Empty Hand
Karate is not simply a method of empty handed combat, but also a way of peace. Keep your mind open to the situation, and to the Truth. Do not miss the forest for the trees. Cut through all the hype and find understanding. Your hand, the human hand, is the most versatile physical tool on the planet. Your mind is an even more versatile tool. It is the tool of your human soul, human instincts. In that way, your mind is a hand, reaching out for truth, greater things. Therefore, Karate is the way of uniting body, mind, and soul, that one may be a sharpened tool. Once one has learned Karate, its textbook of technique, philosophy, kata, one should digest it and make it part of one's nature. Continue to sharpen yourself, refining what you have learned, using it to your advantage and the good of others.
This article is a part of the author's concise guide to karate. Be sure to check out his Johnston Karate Home Page to view the free version of the guide or order a professionally printed copy.