Mastering Karate: ‘The Third Precept of Karate-do’ by Anko Itosu.

Published: July 23, 2017

How long does it take to become a master of karate? In the West, some people who train for 10 years a couple of times a week, think they are a ‘master of karate’ then. But is that realistic?

In 1908 Anko Itosu, the ‘grandfather of modern karate’, wrote ‘The Ten Precepts of Karate-do’. The third precept says:
“Tode (karate) cannot be learned quickly. Like a slow moving bull, that eventually walks a thousand miles, if one studies seriously every day, in three or four years one will understand what tode is about. The very shape of one’s bones will change.”

Anko Itosu says ‘studies seriously every day’. In that time, it was normal to train at least 3 hours a day.
7 days a week, 365 days a year.

That means that they trained 365 x 3 = 1.095 hours per year.
Suppose that someone was a very quick learner and needed three years to understand what tode is about.
1.095 x 3 = 3.285 hours of training.

In the West, most people train 2 or 3 times a week for 1,5 hours.
That is 3 to 4,5 hours per week.
Due to holidays etc. most people train for 45 weeks a year.
45 x 4,5 = 202,5 hours of training per year.
Now compare this to the ‘Okinawan hours’ of training:
3.285 / 202,5 = 16,22 years for Western people to understand what karate is about.

But, Anko Itosu mentioned 3 to 4 years. Suppose that someone needed four years to understand what tode is about instead of three.
1.095 x 4 = 4.380 hours of training.
4.380 / 202,5 ‘Western training hours’ = 21,62 years for Western people to understand what karate is about.

But, do not forget most Western people train 2 times a week instead of 3.
That’s 45 x 3 (hours) = 135 hours of training per year.
3.285 (3 Okinawan years of training) / 135 = 24,33 years of Western training.
4.380 (4 Okinawan years of training) / 135 = 32,44 years of Western training.

And then we are not talking about ‘mastering karate’ yet.
We are talking about ‘understand what karate is about’.
Food for thought.

Author: Olaf Steinbrecher