Dojo Kun (School Oath)
Kyokusin dojo kun was written by Mas Oyama with the help of Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of Musashi, a book about the life and times of Japan’s greatest warrior, Miyamoto Musashi. The book provided much of Mas Oyama’s inspiration during his mountain training days.
- We will train our hearts and bodies for a firm, unshaken spirit.
- We will pursue the true meaning of the Martial Way so that, in time, our senses may alert.
- With true vigor, we will seek to cultivate a spirit of self-denial.
- We will observe the rules of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence.
- We will follow our religious principles and never forget the true virtue of humility.
- We will look upwards to wisdom and strength, not seeking other desires.
- All our lives, through the discipline of karate, we will seek to fulfill the true meaning of the Kyokushin Way.
We used to recite this oath at the end of every class. I’m not sure when it was that we stopped, but we did use it for many years. I was very fond of the dojo kun and found it to be a source of inspiration. Perhaps it was the move from Kyokushin to Oyama karate that precipitated the change. Regardless, many schools have ceased repeating the oath in class. Some have said that the calling out of the oath sounds “cult-like.” Well, maybe it does sound that way to some people. I suppose since younger children began joining karate schools, this has become a more sensitive subject. Hanshi Steve Arneil did away with the oath as a part of his organization (the IFK). He told me it was because the oath is very serious and very few people are truly prepared to follow it. It is unreasonable (or hypocritical) to require them to repeat it.
Another reason for the decline of the use of the school oath has to do with political correctness and/or a sensitivity to religious differences. The fifth line originally read, “We will follow our gods and Buddha and never forget the true virtue of humility.” That was changed in the U.S. to “We will follow our God and never forget the true virtue of humility”, which worked well in a Judea-Christian community. Then at some time the line, as written above, “we will follow our religious principles”, became the accepted English translation. However, that’s not really a translation, per se. Although some might argue it captures the meaning or essence of the original oath.
We currently do not recite the oath, but we include it here as part of our tradition, heritage, and history. I don’t think this would be acceptable today. How about you? Do you use an oath in your school? How do you feel about it? Has anyone “outside” the school commented on it?