Concerning Examinations

By David Johnston

The word ‘jutsu’, as in “ju-jutsu’, means ‘skill’. The purpose of’ karate-jutsu’ is to learn techniques, in as short a time as possible which can be put to use in combat. The word ‘do’, which is the same as the Chinese word ‘tao’, means ‘Way’. The purpose of karate-do is to use those techniques as material to work with in a lifelong endeavor to approach perfection. Patience, determination, and courage are required and developed in the process. Other qualities that are developed, through interaction with the dojo, are humility and consideration for others. So, through striving to perfect technique, one indirectly – little by little – strengthens and refines his or her own character.

There are objective standards which the student must strive to meet; they are the subject of this handbook. However, since the important point is character formation, it is the trainee’s performance in relation to his natural abilities which is assessed, for this is what reflects the effort he has made. One student’s combination may be sharper than another’s but the latter may have worked harder to achieve this level of skill. Since this relates to character it must be taken into account.

All this might seem idealistic. On the other hand, the person with strong character is the one you want by your side in a “real” situation. Good coordination or flexible joints are useful, but less important than strong spirit.

I repeat, though: there are objective standards which the student must strive to meet! We should never easily excuse ourselves! The human capacity for growth is unlimited and this is the most important lesson that karate-do can teach us. ‘Osu!’ means ‘Strive!”. We should remember that every time we say it!

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