Karate Begins and End with… What?

From Matt Sheridan (I don’t remember when I originally wrote this.)

Many of us are familiar with the quote, “Karate begins and ends with Respect,” by Gichin Funakoshi. This is included as the first in his 20 Precepts of Karate-Do. The Japanese for this is 「空手道は礼に始まり礼に終わる」or “Karare-Dō wa rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru,” however this idea does not originate in karate nor is it exclusive to karate, and will often be seen with 武道 in place of 空手道 or with no subject listed at all. However what I would like to point out is that 礼 doesn’t actually mean, “respect,” in the sense that most of us mean it.

I have discussed the difference between these two words in the past, but Rei is actually much closer to “courtesy,” “manners,” “gratitude,” than it is to the western concept of “respect.” When we say that, “Karate begins with Rei,” respect (an intrinsic feeling regarding another individual or group of individuals) is not what we are talking about. What we are usually implying is that karate-ka should show a degree of courtesy, following the accepted etiquette (manners), and the like. The Japanese are pretty big on that after all, lol.

Well just some food for thought.

Published by mattskaratecorner

A martial arts student and instructor. A school teacher and researcher. A curmudgeon with a lot on his mind.

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