During a Gassuku in Trier Germany 1991, every participant got a certificate. The certificate, handed to us from Shihan Hideo Ochi, had a meaning that I would like to translate in this blog.

In the beginning, I did not realize the value nor the meaning of this certificate. The camp itself was a tough camp with 3 to 4 sessions of Karate training a day, and we did little except eating, exercise, and sleeping. When I came to train with Sensei Koyama, I noticed that he had the same words framed in our dojo. I looked at it again to learn what is behind these words. After many years of Karate, I now start to understand the words handed to me. I would like to take the time to translate it and provide my interpretation.

The Japanese Version:

Ken wa kokoro nari, Kokoro tadashi karazareba, Ken mata tadashi karazu. Ken o manaban to hossureba, mazu kokoro yori manbubeshi.

In the original proverb, the character “Ken” stands for the sword. In kanji, in the picture above, “Ken” means fist. This is the same character fist as in Karate-Do. Kokoro means heart. In western philosophies that heart stands for the physical heart and the emotional heart. In the meaning here the heart is more than either of those, and includes the ability to control yourself and bring yourself on the right path.

The Meaning, in English

Kokoro means in our sense to have the correct attitude, do the right things in life and deal justly. If your heart is in the wrong place, the person is on the wrong path. To master “Ken” – the sword or the fist – you have to find your heart first. Freely translated, the one who wants to learn budo martial arts ought to learn philosophy first before mastering the technique. Our dojo emphasizes this as well.

Sensei Rolf Lohr