Respect, Love and Obedience
(Excepted from Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura's book Karate - Technique and Spirit)
I founded Seido on three fundamental principles: respect, love and obedience. These principles represent what I have found to be essential to a healthy and productive practice of martial arts. They also represent a way, or do, of being in everyday like.
If we truly have respect of others, it is inevitable that we treat them with courtesy and equanimity. It is when we do not have respect for others that we become angry with them, that we disparage them, that we find no value in what they say, and that we engage in destructive action. This lack of respect for others, oddly enough, is related to a lack of respect for ourselves. Karate, through the practice of zazen, makes us look at ourselves. If we do this sincerely, we inevitable find our beautiful, truly human core. To find this, however, we will have to wipe away many layers of dust and dirt, which cloud the bright surface of what the Zen masters call our "mirror mind" or "Buddha nature." When we see ourselves clearly, not with a vain love or callous self-indulgence, but with a healthy respect, we shall inevitably see others the same way. The Zen master says we shall see no separation - there is not self, and no other.
It is easy to do violence to another if your see that person as separate and distinct from you. Our society encourages us to think in terms of the "other" country, the "other" system. When we think this way, it is easy to deny to others the respect they are due. In Zen, when you bow, you bring your palms together in gassho. This means "two into one." There is not self and no other. Respect yourself and respect others.
Karate offers a means of building the principle of respect into a cornerstone of our lives. This is achieved through the strict, ritual courtesy and etiquette that all students practice every moment in the dojo. How we wear our uniforms, how we move, how we speak to senior students, how we bow - these are carefully prescribed and followed by all, regardless of rank. In one sense, this refines our manners and makes us more civilized people. In a deeper sense, it serves to ingrain respect into our characters.
Love is another fundamental principle of Seido. It is the most overused and misused word in the English language. Love grows out of respect. In fact, the two go hand in hand. People are very apt to express a sentimental love for another, yet they will show that same person much disrespect. With true love, this cannot be.
We must love our parents, who are our first and most important teachers. Our love for them can grow out of a real respect and appreciation for the sacrifice and suffering they have endured for our comfort. We can then give love to our families in the same way that it was given to us.
Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, spent his whole life trying to find the cause of human suffering. After doing zazen under the banyan tree in India, he was enlightened. After his experience, he felt compassion for the suffering of humanity. Compassion means a moving of the insides; we feel so much for someone's pain and suffering that our insides hurt and are moved. Love, founded on a genuine compassion for others, is something that we should train ourselves to extent freely.
When we love freely, we can give and share everything. We need hold on to nothing. Our hands can be empty. Karate means "empty hand."
The samurai loved rectitude, or right action. We should feel the same way. Morally and ethically, in all situations, we should train ourselves to love the just and honorable way of acting. Obedience is the final pillar in the foundation of Seido karate. In the basic sense, of course, it signifies being obedient to the rules and regulations of the dojo and of the organization. This is not out of some blind, military mind-set. Obedience goes with commitment. Students of Seido karate make a commitment to train as hard as they can to develop mind, body and spirit into harmony and balance.
Obedience means obeying one's parents. Besides being an obligation in which I have a firm belief, it is a way of teaching humility and keeping the ego in check. No matter how old we are, we are still our parents' children.
We should also be obedient to the laws of our community and society. A good karate-ka is always a good citizen. There can be no duality in this regard. The highest obedience is to the moral and spiritual principles of our conscience, to which our parents have contributed much. I hope that every student of Seido Karate will be able to develop these highest individual principles and better understand him- or herself.