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Karate Shūgyōjō no Kokoroe


          Karate shÅ«gyōsha ha tsune ni reigi tadashiku okonau koto.

          Kata ya kumite wo engi suru baai sono zengō ha kanarazu rei ni hajimari rei ni warukoto.

          RenshÅ« no sai ha kiryoku wo jÅ«jitsu shi zenryoku wo sosoge ki no nuketa renshÅ« ha kaette jōtatsu no samatage to naru.

          Shihan sempai ha mataha gaibu shō sempai no oshie ha yoku miyoku kiite hagemineru koto ni ari wasurete ha naranai.

          Miru kiku izuremo shinpo no ookina kagi de ari jōtatsu ni shitagatte sono aji ga waite kuru mono de aru.

          RenshÅ« ha tatoe sukoshizutsu demo jizoku seyo chÅ«dan suru koto ha shimpo chÅ«dan moshiku ha taiho no moto to naru.

          Waza no honsuji wo manabe mizukara no kokoro no jōtai wo mimamotte sono shimpo no kōjō wo kufÅ« seyo.  Waza to kokoro to ha omote to ura to no gotoshi.

          Bōin bōshoku wo tsutsushime bōin bōshoku ha renshÅ« no kōka wo gensai suru mono to kokoroe yo.

          Tsune ni kōjō no nen wo ushinawazu iyashikumo manzuru nakare manshin ha karate shÅ«gyōchÅ« ni kakariyasuki taibyō de aru.

          Kyokugen nai no ha karate no shÅ«gyō de aru.  Tsutomete yamazumba itsu shika dō ni iran.


Shōrinryū Matsumura Seitō Karatedō Hombu


Rules for Karate Practice



          Karate practitioners always conduct themselves with proper etiquette.

          Without fail, bow to begin and bow to end when performing kata and kumite.

          When practicing, rouse your energy and pour in all of your strength.  Practice devoid of energy is all the more an obstacle to progress.

          Watch and listen well to the teachings of your instructor, your seniors and your seniors in the various other schools.  Work hard and refine yourself, never forget [their teachings].

          Looking and listening are both large keys to progress.  As one improves, their importance becomes more apparent.

          Continue practice, even if a little at a time.  Interruptions become an interruption in progress or the basis for a step backward.

          Learn the essence of technique, watch over the state of your heart and plan out [their] development.  "Technique" and "heart" are as "omote" and "ura" [two faces of the same entity].

          Beware overdrinking and overeating.  It is a rule that overdrinking and overeating lessen the effects of practice.

          Never lose the thought of improvement, never slacken [your effort].  Self-conceit is a serious illness easily contracted during karate practice.

          Limitless is karate practice.  Work ceaselessly, and you will become a master before you know it.



Shōrinryū Matsumura Seitō Karatedō Hombu


Translator's Notes to "Rules for Karate Practice"


When translating, I tried to stay as true to the nuance of each sentence as possible.  I might revise the translation in the future (the end of the fourth guideline is passable but a little murky because of the phrase used in the text), but I have obsessed with the passage enough to give a solid rendering.  Sōken Sensei wrote as a traditionalist of his generation would -- the expressions are sometimes deep in innuendo and not amenable to a precise, direct English reading.  In the parts where I had to supplement with English words to make the text understandable, I have put those words in brackets.  For those phrases not translatable directly into English, I have used the equivalent that I thought best conveyed the contextual nuance.


One might find it interesting to compare my translation of Sōken's "Rules for Karate Practice" with the one found in the last paragraph of the 1967 Black Belt Magazine article entitled "The White Swan of Hohan Soken."  Because the author of that article (or at least his translator) buggered the meaning of the basic word "hakutsuru," I was surprised at how well he did with the "Rules."  While some of his translation is incorrect, he caught generally the meaning of most of the guidelines.  Nevertheless, he missed a number of nuances and, as a result, some key insights into what Sōken wrote (e.g, the seventh guideline's explanation that the importance of watching and listening become more apparent as one advances).


The verb "jÅ«jitsu suru" (meaning "to be filled, to enrich") in the third guideline presented some difficulty when finding an English equivalent.  Literally, the guideline exhorts students to "fill the ki power" ("kiryoku wo jÅ«jitsu shi") and pour in all of their strength during practice.  Because the literal meaning, and indeed the concept of life force "ki," are vulnerable to comically ethereal interpretation by English speakers, an alternative expression seemed preferable.  The Black Belt article's author opted for "mental concentration," but I feel that this improperly limits the full meaning of the word.  Instead, I borrowed from the well-known Tai Ch'i expression "rouse your ch'i" to make an effective substitute.  I believe the image of "rousing one's energy" appropriately (and more safely) conveys the notion of "filling the ki power."


Finally, the "White Swan" article's concluding quote about diligent students' 'one day in the future [entering] the Temple (of Shaolin)' has taken on a life of its own among many American Matsumura Seitō practitioners.  While the quote gave a nicely mystical conclusion to the Black Belt article, I believe the allusion to the Shaolin Temple is inappropriate.  The concluding phrase uses the expression "dō ni iru," which literally does mean "enter the temple" (an unspecified one, at least).  Colloquially, however, the phrase means "becoming expert," "mastering," or "becoming at home" with something (c.f., KenkyÅ«sha's or any other large Japanese-English dictionary).  While not a phrase heard daily, it is used commonly by people who do not practice martial arts and who have never heard of Shaolin.  It is possible, though I doubt it, that Sōken Sensei intended the double meaning suggested by Black Belt.  Without seeing any evidence of that intent, however, I decided to avoid that translator's embellishment and opted for the phrase "become a master."  Admittedly, that phrase also has a special meaning in English, but I believe that even that special meaning is true to the tone of Sōken's text.  In light of this meaning, I think it is also safe to conclude that the Black Belt article is incorrect to suggest that Sōken's "entering the temple" is a goal that he had not attained.


Finally, I invite other linguists to refine my translation and have included a Rōmaji reading of the "Rules" for that purpose.


Rich Boyden

November 23, 1999





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