What does Karate-Do mean ?
The question comes very often about Karate-do. Lots of people interested in practising Karate ask themselves the difference between Karate and Karate-do. They are usually confronted with this question when trying to look for a club where they could start Karate. So we will try to clarify things and help everyone to understand what Karate-do stands for.
To keep this post short, we won’t go back to the origins of Karate but it is important to know that Karate as practised nowadays was developed in Japan.
In Japanese, kara (空?) means « empty », precisely « vacuum » and te the hand. In extension, Karate means « empty hand ».
Do means the way, the technique, the art.
When we combine all the japanese words above, Karate-Do means the technique used to defend oneself with empty hands – which implies without external weapons, using only the body. But beyond this primary definition, Karate-Do is an Art – a way of life.
Practising Karate-Do is being in the journey of becoming an artist in the way of defending one’s self with empty hands. This is much deeper than just punching others. It requires one to live according to some strict principles.
The 20 principles of Gichin Funakoshi, considered the father of modern Karate-Do
#1 Never forget that karate begins and ends with respect.
#2 There is no first attack in karate.
#3 Karate fosters righteousness.
#4 First know yourself and then know others.
#5 Rather than physical technique, mental technique.
#6 Let your mind roam freely.
#7 Inattention and neglect causes misfortune.
#8 Never think that karate is practiced only in the dojo.
#9 Karate is a life-long pursuit.
#10 Everything you encounter is an aspect of karate: find the marvellous truth there.
#11 Karate is like boiling water: if you do not keep the flame high, it turns tepid.
#12 Do not think about winning; think about not losing.
#13 Respond in accordance to your opponent.
#14 Wage the battle with natural strategy.
#15 Regard your hands and feet as sharp swords.
#16 Step out the door and you face 10,000 foes.
#17 Learn various stances as a beginner but then rely on a natural posture.
#18 The kata must always be practiced correctly: real combat is another matter.
#19 Never forget your own strengths and weakness, the limitations of your body, and the relative quality of your techniques.
#20 Continuously polish your mind.
So, for everyone who wants to practise Karate-Do, they should know that it is more about these principles than the simple technique. Without internalising the principles of Karate-Do, one might excel in some techniques but will never become an Artist of Karate-Do