Seishin-Kan Dōjō Kun

Kanji for Dōjō Kun

The kanji at left read "Dōjō Kun".  A dōjō is a "place of the Way [of Life]".  Typically, people think of a dōjō as the building in which budō training takes place.  However, as explained elsewhere in this website, in the truest sense a dōjō is anywhere a budōka is training in or applying the principles of budō .  The Japanese word "kun" () has several meanings, but in this context it means "code of conduct" ... or more literally "rules or principles that should never be broken".  In everyday usage at the Seishin-Kan we simplify this concept to "Code of the Dōjō".

According to karate tradition and folklore, Sakugawa Shungō (aka "Karate" Sakugawa) created the first Dōjō Kun sometime in the late 18th century.  Unfortunately, no records survive from that era to substantiate this legend, but it was universally believed by all of the pioneering karate-ka of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The Dōjō Kun to which the Seishin-Kan ascribes is believed to be either the original Dōjō Kun attributed to Sakugawa Shungō or one that differs from the original in only minor respects.

Following our Dōjō Kun is not limited to the activities in our training classes.  We adhere to the maxim, "Jikishin kore dōjō nari" ("A pure heart is [the true] dōjō "), so everywhere we go in life—school, work, or leisure activities—we should always be applying the principles of the Dōjō Kun.

English Translation

Kanji for Eigo

One: Relentlessly strive for perfection of character
One: Always behave with respect and discipline
One: Exemplify righteousness
One: Persevere through all adversities
One: Always exercise self-control

In the post-WWII era, recitation of the Dōjō Kun is cutomarily followed with a resolute (but not shouted), "Ossu."

Not only are some of the terms used in the English translation of our Dōjō Kun difficult for younger students to understand, but their implications and nuances can even be challenging to adult students, so we have provided an explanation following the original Japanese version of our Dōjō Kun below.

Original Japanese

Kanji for Nihongo

NOTE:  the pronunciation of each Japanese sentence is provided on the line beneath it below.

一、 人格の完成に喫すること。
Hitotsu: Jinkaku no kansei ni kissuru koto.
一、 礼と節に終始すること。
Hitotsu: Rei to setsu ni shūshi suru koto.
一、 信義を重んずること。
Hitotsu: Shingi o omonzuru koto.
一、 千鍛万錬に徹すること。
Hitotsu: Sentan banren ni tessuru koto.
一、 血気の湯に早るべからざること。
Hitotsu: Kekki no yu ni hayaru bekarazaru koto.

Following the recitation of the Dōjō Kun with an emphatic "Ossu" is a practice that developed sometime in the 20th century.  It was definitely not done before karate was introduced to mainland Japan in 1922, and probably not prior to World War II, when mass training of karate-ka became commonplace.

Explanation of Dōjō Kun

Kanji for Setsumei (Explanation)Relentlessly strive for perfection of character (人格の完成に喫すること。).  Jinkaku ("character") is the essential set of values, beliefs, attitudes, temperament, moral concepts, and ideals that define our personality and guide our actions.  Because perfection (kansei) of this set of traits and elimination of all of our flaws is a noble goal that is not humanly possible, we can only relentlessly strive (kissuru)—meaning to try our best without ever giving up—to attain it.  Koto is a sentence ending that basically means "without fail".

Always behave with respect and discipline (礼と節に終始すること。).  A simple way of thinking of respect (rei) is treating people the way you want to be treated yourself.  Setsu (discipline) is doing what you are supposed to do, when you are supposed to do it, without being reminded by someone else.  Shūshi means "from start to finish" (of life; not just karate class!), and suru is "to do".  So, a karate-ka has respect and discipline his or her entire life.

Exemplify righteousness (信義を重んずること。).  "Righteousness" (shingi) is just a long word that means to do what is right.  Omonzuru means "to be an example".  So, to "exemplify righteousness" means to do the right thing as an example to others—especially if the right thing is not the popular thing.

Persevere through all adversities (千鍛万錬に徹すること。).  A literal translation of this would be "through (ni) 1,000 refinements (sentan) or 10,000 temperings (banren) remain devoted/dedicated (kissuru)."  The word tan means to refine, the way metal is refined by melting it to remove impurities and imperfections.  Ren means to harden a metal by repeatedly beating it with a hammer.  So, even if you are heated to the melting point 1,000 times (worked or trained to exhaustion) or beaten down 10,000 times (bruised and battered), never give up!

Always exercise self-control (血気の湯に早るべからざること。).  Kekki (literally "blood spirit") means impetuousness, yu means to boil or boil-over, and hayaru means to be foolishly quick to act.  Bekarazaru means "never ever".  So a more literal translation would be:  "never ever foolishly let your emotions boil suddenly over."   To state it in a positive ("do"), rather than negative ("don't") way:  always exercise self-control.  And self-control truly is exercise, because it requires a lot of effort!

Memorise It ...

Random foliage

One of the requirements for the first rank to which a Seishin-Kan student can be promoted in any art we teach is to memorise the Dōjō Kun (in English.)

 Since the Dōjō Kun is intended to apply to daily life; not just activities in the dōjō, it must be permanently ingrained in one's mind in order to guide one's behaviour and attitudes at all times.

Although it is not a requirement for promotion in rank, we also encourage students to learn the Japanese version and understand the nuances its original language imparts to its meaning.

Related Links