How the Codes of Karate Can Guide Your Life

Simply put, the whole heart nature of this style of Karate seeks unity with the Self and seeks our place in the cosmic fabric of Life and the Universe.

How the Codes of Karate Can Guide Your Life
Photo by svklimkin / Unsplash

I practice Isshinryu Karate, better known as ‘whole heart style.’ It’s this ‘whole heart style’ business that I want to share with you today. Simply put, the whole heart nature of this style of Karate seeks unity with the Self and seeks our place in the cosmic fabric of Life and the Universe.

I will be sharing our 8 Codes of Karate with you, a simple philosophy that you can use to find unity with your Self.

1 — A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth

Eastern philosophies always seek to understand how we are woven into the fabric of the universe. As individuals, we often feel alone in this great universe, even if we are part of a family or in a relationship. What the first code of Karate tells us is that we must first seek unity with the Self.

There will be times to rest and times to run.

It’s the same as conventional sayings such as “follow your heart” or “there is a place in my heart” for something. Once you have found your unity, you become the same as Heaven and Earth. You are woven into the fabric of the universe and you will feel at peace.

2 — The blood circulating is similar to the Moon and the Sun

Similar to the first code above, in Nature, there are ebbs and flows. The tides come in and the tides go out. There’s a time to sow and a time to reap. You should know that you are the same. There will be times to rest and times to run.

…there will be times for you to fight or take a stand…

Knowing that energy, relationships, and life go through this process of ebb and flow will let you ‘swim with the tide’ as opposed to fighting it. You must not fight it but succumb to it and all will be ok.

3 — The manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft

The third code of Karate is similar to the second one. If you haven’t guessed it by now, most of the codes build upon one another. This code highlights the Yin-Yang relationship.

In Karate, the Yang part (masculine) is often associated with punching, kicking, and being aggressive. The Yin part (feminine) is associated with blocking, moving out of the way, or redirecting energy.

Once we become unbalanced, we fall metaphorically.

This is the same in life, there will be times for you to fight or take a stand, and other times to block and move out of the way.

4 — A person’s unbalance is the same as a weight

This code is much deeper than what you read on its surface. Yes, there’s a lot of balancing we must do when we execute moves in Karate, but your unbalance can be much more than standing on one foot.

A person’s unbalance can be things like overeating, speaking too much, or yielding to temptation too much. Once we become unbalanced, we fall metaphorically. If we eat too much junk food (unbalance), we become fat (weight).

Wisdom and happiness are not always black and white and it’s ok to move through the gray colors.

This code asks you to strive for balance in your life. It’s ok to eat Twinkies if you like them, just don’t do it every day! Find those things that weigh you down and adjust your balance.

5 — The body should be able to change position at any time

In Karate we are told to move. If you make a strike or parry, then move out of the way. The same holds true in life. Similar to Code #2 and #3 above, life is going to change and you need to adjust accordingly. The same can be said for your thoughts and beliefs.

Action speaks louder than words.

If new information or life shows you something different, you must not be too rigid but keep an open mind for new possibilities. Wisdom and happiness are not always black and white and it’s ok to move through the gray colors.

6 — The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself

One of the best moments in Karate is when your opponent makes a mistake and you see an opening to strike. You don’t think about it, you just act. Simply put, you strike. This Code is much more than just punching, it can be applied to all facets of your life.

Take the time to look at problems from all sides…

Opportunities come around every so often and there will be times when you must seize them or they’re gone forever. Offered a new position at work that you always wanted? Say Yes! Want to tell your significant other how you feel about them? Do it.

Action speaks louder than words.

7 — The eyes must see all sides

Code #7 builds on several of the other Codes, especially #5. Sometimes things are not as they seem and we can be confused or mislead. Take the time to look at problems from all sides and see if it really is a problem or a lie.

There are many people in this world that speak about things that are not true…

Another conventional bit of wisdom would be ‘walk a mile in someone’s shoes.’ Let’s face it, we all have prejudices that we must overcome, and understanding them is the first step to seeing a person or a problem in its true light.

8 — The ears must hear in all directions

The last Code is similar to #5 and #7. You must carefully listen and seek to understand the true nature of a problem before deciding. In our hyperactive world, this can be very hard to do but it’s best to listen first before speaking or doing.

…do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.

Expanding your listening ability to 360 degrees can help understand what a person is saying and if they mean what they say. Many people in this world speak about things that are not true but in a manner which many people believe to be true.
TL;DR

If you have just skimmed this article without reflecting on the codes, then do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.

If you have read the Codes of Karate and reflected on them, do 50 pushups, 50 crunches, and 50 squats.