Restraint with Chris

Here, Chris, and I discuss restraint and Dojo Kun number five. Last time, we talked about number four and respect. Chris is a respectful, intermediate adult karate practitioner.

J: What’s the literal translation of Dojo Kun number five?

C: It’s important to keep control over the fire that can rage in your blood.

J: What is that blood fire?

C: It’s testosterone… a sudden impulse to be macho or prove oneself by acting out.

J: And the kanji (Japanese writing) on that?

C: It’s keiki no yu. Literally, kei means blood and ki is spirit or life force energy. Put together, keiki is about people’s physical energy. Yu is bravery or courage: the kanj uses the symbol for man and the one for strength or power.


J: So, to be fair on the flipside here, is this only for men?

C: Absolutely not. It is for both genders (and all ages!). Karate doesn’t care if you are male or female. A lot of us guys might appreciate this kanji more than a lot of women, and we might use it more. But females can benefit from it just as much as we do.

J: Okay. So, you were explaining keiki no yu

C: I like to translate it as: the fire of courage in your blood.

J: Some people translate number five as, “Guard against impetuous courage.”

C: Don’t use reckless bravery… That’s a great literal translation. But our translation, “Restrain my physical abilities through spiritual attainment” gives you more.


C: Imagine a student – it could be a kid, or an adult – who is having trouble restraining their physical abilities. Sometimes just saying, “restrain yourself!” isn’t enough.

J: So they try to use restraint, but they struggle with it?

C: Exactly. What does that student to do? They look to Dojo Kun number five: use spiritual attainment.

J: What does that mean?

C: Attainment means achievement, basically “improve your spiritually.”

J: And the word “spiritual” in this context?

C: When you focus on spirituality you connect with your true source. For many of us, that is found in God and often facilitated through prayer, church or religion. For people who have not found God, they might be able to connect with their true source through communing with nature or through meditation.

J: How can that help a student with restraint problems?

C: To use Dojo Kun number five, they would look to their higher power or true source in order to help them find more self control.


J: And how do you use Dojo Kun number five?

C: When I get together with friends, I don’t start or participate in one-upmanship. I use humbleness. When someone says they are the best, or better than someone else, I either change the subject, or just give them the win, like, “Yes, Ted, you ARE the best guitarist in town.”

J: Ted will love that.

C: It doesn’t hurt to give him a vote of confidence; he spends a lot of time practicing.

J: What about if someone confronts you?

C: I strive to be a warrior for a peaceful and free world. When someone’s peeved at me, I absolutely use restraint. Particularly if it’s a work thing, or a verbal thing. I keep my cool and try to work it out.


J: Is there a time when you don’t recommend restraint?

C: Generally, we should always use it. If someone physically attacks me, I will gauge my response depending on their attack. If they just slap or hit, I will only do what I need to do to protect myself and stop the attacker. I won’t unnecessarily break every bone in his body. I’ll use my skills to make it so he won’t want to do that again. There’s usually still some restraint needed in life protection situations.

J: And how does Dojo Kun number five work at the dojo?

C: I use it every time I work with a partner. We both want to go home after class, instead of the hospital.

J: Thank you, Chris, for sharing your thoughts on the Dojo Kun!   restraint

By Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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