by Anko Itosu
Ten Lessons of To-te was written
in October, 1908 by Anko Itosu, one of Gichin Funakoshi's
two most influential teachers. The following is
Tales of Okinawa's Great Masters by Shoshin Nagamine,
Translated by Patrick McCarthy.
Karate does not endeavor only
to discipline one's physique. If and when
the necessity arises to fight for a just cause,
karate provides the fortitude with which to risk
one's own life in support of that campaign.
It is not meant to be employed against a single
adversary but rather as a means of avoiding the
use of one's hands and feet in the event of a potentially
dangerous encounter with a ruffian or a villain.
The primary purpose of karate
training is to strengthen the muscles, making the
physique strong like iron and stone so that one
can use the hands and feet to approximate such weapons
as a spear or halberd. In doing so, karate
training cultivates bravery and valor in children
and it should be encouraged in our elementary schools.
Don't forget what the Duke of Wellington said after
defeating Emperor Napoleon: "The Battle of
Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton."
Karate cannot be adequately learned
in a short period of time. Like a sluggish
bull, regardless of how slowly it moves it will
eventually cover a thousand miles. So too,
for one who resolves to study diligently two or
three hours every day, after three or four years
of unremitting effort one's body will undergo a
great transformation, revealing the very essence
One of the most important issues
in karate is the importance of training the hands
and the feet. Therefore, one must always make use
of the makiwara in order to develop them thoroughly.
In order to do this effectively, lower the shoulders,
open the lungs, focus your energy, firmly grip the
ground to root your posture, and sink your ki
, forcing it into your tanden .
Following this procedure, perform one to two hundred
punches with each hand every day.
One must maintain an upright
position in the training postures of karate.
The back should be straight, loins pointing upward
with the shoulders down, while maintaining a pliable
power in your legs. Relax and bring together
the upper and lower parts of the body with the
ki force focused in your tanden
Handed down by word of mouth,
karate is comprised of a myriad of techniques and
corresponding meanings. Resolve to independently
explore the context of these techniques, observing
the principles of torite (theory of usage),
and the practical applications will be more easily
In karate training one must determine
whether the interpretation of a movement is suitable
for defense or for cultivating the body.
Intensity is an important issue
in karate training. To visualize the one is
actually engaged on the battlefield during training
does much to enhance progression. Therefore,
the eyes should dispatch fierceness while lowering
the shoulders and contracting the body when delivering
a blow. Training in this spirit prepares one
for actual combat.
The amount of training must be
in proportion to one's physical reservoir of strength
and conditioning. Excessive practice is harmful
to one's body and can be recognized when the face
and eyes become red.
Participants of karate usually
enjoy a long and healthy life, thanks to the benefits
of unremitting training. Practice strengthens
muscle and bone, improves the digestive organs,
and regulates blood circulation. Therefore,
if the study of karate were introduced into our
curricula from elementary school and practiced extensively
we could more easily produce men of immeasurable
teachings in mind, it is my conviction that if the students
at the Shihan Chugakko (old name of Okinawa's
Teachers College) practice karate they could, after
graduation, introduce the discipline at the local levels;
namely to elementary schools. In this way karate
could be disseminated throughout the entire nation and
not only benefit people in general but also serve as
an enormous asset to our military forces.