By André Bertel
Lines must always be perfectly straight, and formed very-quickly, as to train ones awareness, focus, decisiveness, and desire to maximise training time. Anything less will result in a class punishment, or the punishment of the individual who acted indecisively. Karatedo is a discipline, therefore laziness and inattentiveness means that harsh consequences are inevitable. If this system is not used in the dojo (training hall), mental discipline will not be attained, and the karateka will always be overcome by those psychologically stronger than themselves.
Budo (karatedo, judo, kendo, aikido etc.) is a way to develop not only physical power, but obviously mental power as well. However, unless training is structured in the strict traditional manner, we can only offer lip-service to the mental discipline of the art. Physical power alone, when seriously tested, will always fail without the discipline of mind. This discipline of the mind results in `osu no seishin’ (the spirit perseverance).
Without the development of this psychological power, and with only external technique, ones karate will not work in self-defence, nor have technical brilliance, and will not benefit our daily lives. By disciplining the mind we can make kime-waza (decisive techniques) which are effective and aesthetically beautiful to observe.
A karate dojo without the above mentioned strictness, is one I am not interested in. Even as a roku-dan (sixth degree black belt) I submit myself to this type of discipline, even when classes are taken by my kohai (juniors). For me it is very sad when students in the dojo call me `André, as opposed to `Sensei’ or `André Sensei’ (in saying that I have never demanded to be called ‘Sensei’). Or simply walk onto the floor in the middle of the class without waiting in seiza (the kneeling position).
One of Funakoshi Sensei’s favourite sayings was ``Karatedo begins and ends with courtesy’’. The founder of Shotokan, and father of modern day karate was adamant that one could not be followers of karatedo without paying close attention to reigi-saho (etiquette). Reigi-saho not only in the dojo, but everyday in our lives. This obviously requires much self-discipline, but is something that is no doubt a righteous aim. I hope this little article further develops our dojo, and more importantly, each and every member. A disciplined structure is something each and every person in our dojo can be proud of, and is typical worldwide, amongst traditional Shotokan groups.