Sunday, 29 August 2021

Revisiting the 10 Precepts of Itosu Anko Sensei

Today I thought I’d share writings from Anko Itosu Sensei. In particular I wanted to highlight his ’10 PRECEPTS’. There’s a lot of knowledge in these writings, but also—in light of history—a lot of controversial stuff as well. Rather than comment on these points, I will simply let Itosu Sensei’s words speak for themselves and for you, the reader, to evaluate them accordingly. Irrespective of all this, what most interests me is: ‘how we can use knowledge for training and improvement’. I really think there are some gems here, hence, this post today. Osu, AB.


Introductory statement: “Karate did not develop from Buddhism or Confucianism. In the past the Shorin-ryu school and the Shorei-ryu school were brought to Okinawa from China. Both of these ryuha have strong points; therefore, list them below just as they are without embellishment.


1.    Karate is not merely practiced for your own benefit; it can be used to protect one's family or master. It is not intended to be used against a single assailant but instead as a way of avoiding injury by using the hands and feet should one, by any chance, be confronted by a criminal or thug.


 2.    The purpose of karate is to make the muscles and bones hard as rock and to use the hands and legs as spears. If children were to begin training naturally, in military prowess, while in elementary school, then they would be well suited for military service in the future. Remember the words attributed to the Duke of Wellington after he defeated Napoleon: "Today's battle was won on the playing fields of our schools".


3.    Karate cannot be quickly learned. Like a slow-moving bull, it eventually travels a thousand leagues. If one trains diligently for one or two hours every day, then in three or four years one will see a change in physique. Those who train in this fashion will discover the deeper principles of karate.


4.    In karate, training of the hands and feet are important, so you should train thoroughly on the makiwara. In order to do this, drop your shoulders, open your lungs, muster your strength, grip the floor with your feet, and concentrate your energy into your lower abdomen. Practice using each arm one to two hundred times each day.


5.    When you practice the stances of karate, be sure to keep your back straight, lower your shoulders, put strength in your legs, stand firmly, and drop your energy into your lower abdomen.


6.    Practice each of the techniques of karate repeatedly. Learn the explanations of every technique thoroughly and decide when, and in what manner, to apply them when needed. Enter, counter, withdraw is the rule for the tori-te (grasping the hand).


7.    You must decide if karate is for your health or to aid your duty.


 8.    When you train, do so as if on the battlefield. Your eyes should focus, shoulders drop, and body strong. You should always train with intensity and spirit as if actually facing the enemy, and in this way you will naturally be ready.


9.    If you use up your strength to excess in karate training, this will cause you to lose the energy in your lower abdomen and it will be harmful to your body. Your face and eyes will turn red. Be careful to control your training.


10.        In the past, many masters of karate have enjoyed long lives. Karate aids in developing the bones and muscles. It helps the digestion as well as the circulation. If karate should be introduced, beginning in the elementary schools, then we will produce many men each capable of defeating ten assailants.”

 © André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

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