Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate, stated that the ultimate
aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of
character. In this way, karate may be described as an aesthetic
course of self-discipline, leading to enlightenment.
Literally, karate-do is the way of the empty hand. This includes
the philosophical notion of "emptying" oneself of improper
motives; not merely fighting without weapons. The principles of
training go beyond technique and may be applied to ordinary life.
Karate training involves little instruction in philosophy. Students
are expected to learn the underlying philosophical principles through
hard work and much practice. By following the technical directions
of the instructors, the example of the senior students and applying
themselves completely to each technique, karate-ka will develop
a deep understanding of both the technical and philosophical aspects
It is said that in karate there is no second chance. Karate-ka
are taught to use each technique as if their lives depended upon
its successful application. This concept is called ikken hissatsu
in Japanese, literally to kill with one blow. However, the real
meaning is that a karate-ka must be completely committed to each
technique and must apply each technique with certainty, force, decisiveness
and without regard to the possibility of failure.