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Karate-Do Begins and Ends with Rei

Updated: Sep 7, 2020

From the book "The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate-Do" by Ginchin Funakoshi

Along with judo and kendo, karate-do is a Japanese martial art. He emphasizes that one should not be caught up in the technical aspects of karate -striking, kicking, blocking- at the expense of the spiritual side of the martial art. It is the focus on the spiritual aspects, that turns karate, the mere martial art, into karate-do, a Way.

"Karate-Do Begins and Ends with Rei"

Rei is often described as "respect," but it actually means a lot more. Rei encompasses both an attitude of respect for others and a sense of self-esteem. When those who honor themselves transfer that feeling of esteem - that is, respect- to others, their action is nothing less than an expression of rei.

It is said that "without rei there is disorder," and also that "the difference between men and animals lies in rei." Combat methods that lack rei are not martial arts but merely contemptible violence. Physical power without rei is no more than brute strength, and for human beings it is without value.

It should also be noted that although a person's deportment may be correct, without a sincere and reverent heart they do not possess true rei. True rei is the outward expression of a respectful heart.

All martial arts begin and end with rei. Unless they are practiced with a feeling of reverence and respect, they are simply forms of violence. For this reason martial arts must maintain rei from the beginning to end.

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