Dojo:   Old Bethpage   Yin yang dojo b   Mt. Kisco

Searching for the DNA of Karatedo

by Shoujiki Sho

This is part one of a serial of stories related to the dojo kun and may give us a better understanding of to “Seek Perfection of Character”.


Many years ago, on the island of Uchina; now known as Okinawa, there was an extraordinary, old man who was known as the Master Runner. His fame even reached the ears of the mountain priests of the Middle Kingdom, now known as China. The Master Runner was approaching his 80th birthday and all the runners who he had trained planned to run; what they believed, to be his last race with him, hoping that if they won the race, they would acquire the title of Master Runner. Many people on Okinawa would also join in the race, just for the privilege of being able to say they ran in a race with him. The mountain priests wanted to run his last race with him; just to achieve, even for a very short time, the feeling of enlightenment and oneness with Nature, that they were certain the Master Runner was experiencing.

On the day of the race; which was to be 80 km, in honor of his age, there were over a thousand participants. One of the participants was the son of a childhood friend of the Master Runner. His name was Hoseki. When Hoseki was 4 years old, both of his parents died from illness. The Master Runner made a deathbed promise to Hoseki's father that he would raise the boy. The people of Gushichan village did not view the Master Runner as others saw him. To the Gushichan villagers he was their Kaminchu; the wise village elder who somehow quieted all arguments and dispensed wisdom and advice to all who wanted or needed. After 50 years of raising Hoseki, it had gotten to the point that Hoseki would deal with the lesser problems in ending quarrels and giving advice.

The Master Runner would only run twice a day. Once, at sunrise, in the morning, and again late in the afternoon. He would run only one or two kilometers at a time. Hoseki would join the Master Runner only for the morning run. As people were preparing for the start of the race, the Master Runner's previous students would come forward one by one and assure the Master Runner that they were destined to win the race due to their perfection of a particular running technique that they have learned from the Master Runner. One by one the Master Runner assured them that they had indeed surpassed his skill at that particular technique; but that did not necessarily mean that they would win the race.

Hoseki asked the Master Runner for permission to join the race; he was concerned for the Master Runners health. Hoseki had never entered any competitions. The Master Runner gave his approval for Hoseki to enter the race. The day of the race was a beautiful, sunny day. The Master Runner thought about all the different types of. Terrain they would be running over during the course of the race. Hills, woods, dense brush, sand; all requiring different approaches and running techniques, almost a mirror image of our journey thru life and the obstacles we face.

As the race was about to start, the Master Runner looked around at all the other runners and then he faced Hoseki and smiled. This would truly be the Master Runner's last race.

The race started with the Master Runner leading the pack at a pace faster than anyone has ever seen with Hoseki running alongside of him. As the runners that were trained by the Master Runner reached the terrain that they specialized in, they headed the rest of the pack with the Master Runner and Hoseki far ahead. Most of the runners sneered and belittled the mountain Priests, who had absolutely no running technique at all. They were all running with their mouths open and gasping for air with their arms swinging wildly without any rhythm.

By the time they got to the fifty km mark, only the runners that were trained by the Master Runner and the mountain priests were still running. As the runners got to a shallow river crossing, about half the remaining runners collapsed in the water and were unable to continue. All the mountain priests made it across with arms swinging and mouths open. At the sixty km mark, the Master Runner turned to Hoseki and said, "now we start to run".

By the time they reached the 70 km mark; the Master Rumler, Hoseki and the mountain priests were the only ones in the race. The pace that the Master Runner had set was beyond any pace that anyone had ever witnessed. The Master Runner was completely shattering-any record he had ever set. It SEEMED almost as if the Master Runner was going to make sure that no one would ever beat his record.

The taste of blood started rushing up into the Master Runners mouth; he realized that the time had come for him to do, what he knew must be done. Due to his advanced age some of the minor blood vessels in his lungs were beginning to rupture from the exertion of the race. He turned to Hoseki and said "don't speak, just listen. Don't look back. Just listen to the sound of my footsteps and match them".

At that point he broke into a dead sprint; that he held for the last 10 km of the race. The last 40 yards of the race the Master Runner started gagging on the blood that was being coughed up into his mouth. Hoseki slowly started to pull ahead of the Master Runner and finished the race about 5 yards ahead of the Master Runner.

The crowd at the finish line was stunned. The Master Runner was beaten, by who they thought to be a nobody. The Gushichan villagers were cheering wildly; they were the only ones who knew who Hoseki was and the relationship he had with the Master Runner. Hoseki was bent over, chest heaving and coughing and straining to catch his breath. The Master Runner walked over to Hoseki and with tears in his eyes said, "I knew you could do it". " All the others, who trained with me, only wanted to become champion runners and cared nothing about learning anything else, other than becoming champions".

At that, the Master Runner announced to everyone that Hoseki was now the Master Runner and had surpassed all his running records. The old Master and the new Master Runner waited for hours for the mountain priests to reach the finish line and thanked each one of them for making this race; a special race for both of them. The mountain priests returned the thanks, for the opportunity to find discover another way to achieve the feeling of enlightenment and oneness with nature that they were seeking.

Seek Perfection Of Character