The Dojo Kun

by Phillip Starr

The training hall oath…recited at the beginning of class by many martial arts schools worldwide.  The oath is a reflection of the values and spirit of the martial discipline which they practice.  When I trained in Kyokushin karate many, many moons ago, we all recited it before every class and to this day, I remember it; “We will train our hearts and minds for a firm, unshaking spirit….”

We were told that we should focus on the meaning of every line and recite the oath with reverence and spirit.  Nowadays, fewer and fewer martial arts schools utilize a dojo kun, even if their particular style has one (some styles don’t) and of those who do, the students tend to repeat the lines of the oath robotically; like a parrot.

The oath is there to remind us of what we are striving to accomplish and why we leave sweat and blood on the training hall floor.  It’s our fault as instructors that this particular aspect of training has fallen by the wayside and been forgotten.  But we can readily find it again and put it to the use for which it was originally intended.  Shall we re-trace our steps back a little distance and retrieve it?