S t r I k I n g P o s t
October / 2016
Over the past few years, since the departure of the Higashi group, Soke Sensei has been trying to explain and teach us the importance of proper manners and how this relates to Chito-Ryu karate. I believe that today, eight years later, there is still a great deal of mis-understanding and mis-conceptions regarding this subject. I believe this is the case in many of our dojos across Canada.
I understand that, no matter how hard we try, we will never be Japanese. However, this should not keep us from doing our best to better understand and improve our karate manners. O`Sensei stated that “without courtesy the soul is lost” indicating the importance of good manners in karate-do.
Though this subject is multi-faceted, I will attempt to give a short overview on the subject. Perhaps a more in depth study will have to be done at a future time.
The bottom line regarding proper manners is to always be respectful. Be respectful towards your instructors/ Senseis. Be respectful towards the dojo. Be respectful towards each other. Be respectful towards our founder and our Ryu. It is not something that you can turn on and off. You must practice good manners always and everywhere. In your everyday life, towards your family and friends. Towards your co-workers and yes even towards total strangers.
Physical signs of good manners include: proper bowing, proper speech, assisting your seniors, teaching junior people, lining up your shoes, etc. . . Lets look at bowing for a moment; When you are training with a partner and the Sensei shouts SHUGO. Often times the two people will face each other and perform a quick bow, maybe just a nod of the head. This is discourteous. A proper bow should always be made so that your partner may not feel slighted in any way. It is not enough to just go through the motions , “pay lip service” so to speak. One must take it to heart.
The bow, just described above is oftentimes seen in competitions where the competitors perform such a bow “because they have to, it is a requirement.”
A bow must be 2 things:
- It must be genuine — You must want to do it, not just do it because you know you have to or that you are told to do it.
- It must be sincere — You have to mean it and not just go through the motions
Good manners must be taught and it is the responsibility of the Sensei to ensure that proper manners are instilled in the students. Students need to be held accountable for lapses in good manners. The following are a few basic rules:
1 — Always bow properly (za-rei, and ritsu-rei)
2 — Make sure your Gi is clean and in good repair
3 — Ensure that you wear your Chito-Ryu crest properly
4 — Always bow when entering and leaving the dojo
5 — Respect the Sensei or other instructors ( do not interrupt, always address as sensei, etc..)
6 — Study the “yoi” and endeavor to perform correctly
7 — Respect each other ( Do not intentionally hurt each other, try to help each other)
8 — Know the SHOWA and recite properly in Japanese and English
9 — Always do your best
As a good rule of thumb, when you don`t know exactly what you should do, ask yourself; ‘What would I do if it were Soke Sensei?” If, for example, Taneda Sensei would visit our dojo. I would treat him the same as if it were Soke Sensei himself who was here. And when I call German Sensei, I try not to treat him any different as well. This way you can rest assured that you will stay on track and not display any bad manners. If I say to myself “I would never do this to Soke Sensei” then nor should I do it to my Sensei who is in fact Soke Sensei`s representative.
As I have stated earlier, this topic demands for everyone to conduct their own research as to exactly what is good manners and how this relates to karate-do. I have given a few examples and tried to help you understand the “ feeling “ of good manners. I encourage everyone to study this concept as it is integral to your journey in Chito-Ryu karate-do. I would say that it is just as important, if not more so, than any karate technique you might learn.