Saturday, January 16, 2010


An inscription by Nobuhide Ohama on Gichin Funakoshi's memorial erected by the Shotokai at Engaku-ji, a Zen temple in Kamakura reads:

Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, of karate-do, was born on June 10, 1870, in Shuri Okinawa. From about eleven years old he began to study to-te jutsu under Azato Anko and Itosu Anko. He practiced diligently and in 1912 became the president of the Okinawan Shobukai.

In May of 1922, he relocated to Tokyo and became a professional teacher of karate-do. He devoted his entire life to the development of karate-do.

He lived out his eighty-eight years of life and left this world on April 26, 1957. Reinterpreting to-te jutsu, the Sensei promulgated karate-do while not losing its original philosophy. Like bugei (classical martial arts), so too is the pinnacle of karate “mu” (enlightenment): to purify and make one empty through the transformation from “jutsu” to “do”.

Through his famous words “Karate ni sente nashi” (There is no first attack in Karate) and “Karate wa kunshi no bugei” (Karate is the martial art of intelligent people), Sensei helped us to better understand the term “jutsu.” 

In an effort to commemorate his virtue and great contributions to modern karate-do as a pioneer, we, his loyal students, organized the Shotokai and erected this monument at the Enkakuji.

“Kenzen ichi” (“The Fist and Zen are one”)

The above is the English translation of the Japanese text.

Because some of the Japanese words or expressions do not have an accurate translation in English, and are (or should be) well known by practitionners of traditional Japanese arts, (DO, JUTSU) the translator chose to not translate them. But when it came to MU, he did however between parenthesis his own interpretation : "enlightenment".

Why did he chose "enlightenment" when Mu is generally translated as "Emptiness" ?

Enlightenment : to make oneself empty through the transformation of Jutsu into Do...

How can I transform Jutsu into Do ?


Anonymous said...


Frederic Lecut said...

Hmmm, unfortunately I cannot read Chinese. But I would love to share with you in English, French or Spanish, these are the only languages I can speak. Please let me know