The dojo kun for Isshinryu seems to have received the interpretation of a code of conduct for the dojo. When I consider the content of this dojo kun I begin to question its authenticity as to being inherited from the systems founder Shimabuku Tatsuo Sensei. I say this for a few reasons.
First, references in the kun (short for dojo kun; brevity purposes) to budo, God and Faith, smoking and drinking tend to convey a more American and/or Military perspective. As far as I can determine Tatsuo Sensei was not a Christian or other religious affiliation that would teach about God. I can see where this might be perceived when he talked of such things as the gokui but wonder a bit about this point.
Second, it would appear that like many urban legends the composing of the dojo kun is or has a rhythm and feel of an American and/or Military influence. I know that Tatsuo Sensei actually composed copies, in Kanji, of the ken-po goku-i but as to the dojo kun in the honbu dojo I suspect that it was created and posted by the leadership of the deshi or senior military attendees.
The kanji provided at the top of one source of the below copy of the Isshinryu Dojo Kun if translated, working on this, may just be a title for the dojo kun or it may be similar to the terse kanji of the gokui (brevity again for ken-po goku-i).
Another source gives us a picture of kanji that is believed to be the dojo code of conduct, dojo kun. It is translated into English but since the snapshot of the kanji is difficult to actually read it is not easily verified as accurate. I also found the kanji for the gokui to lack accurate translation to English where a good deal of latitude was taken in its translation which I also question since those who filled in the holes are and were not so immersed in the culture of Okinawa, etc. that they could do so with any impunity. In this source they go so far as to add a signature in typeface only of Tatsuo Sensei.
Please understand, I am questioning things for the sake of study. It is not meant to say that either source or anyone in Isshinryu is either right or wrong regarding either the dojo kun or the gokui, it is a matter of study and personal philosophies and perceptions only. Meant to inspire comment and thought.
The closest I have come to any kind of translation of "code of conduct" into Japanese is actually "kodo kihan" which translates into "code of conduct." This does not say that dojo kun is not actually coduct but the word kun does not show in the two translator programs I use.
Dojo of course refers to a martial arts training hall. I cannot extrapolate code or honor or conduct that translates from either word, dojo or kun or both together. When I run into this type of disparity I tend to doubt the validity but do so with a bit of caution and allowance for the greater disparity toward an ability to understand Japanese or Okinawan dialect, customs and meanings. Often kanji literally loses its original intent and meaning when absorbed by such disciplines and budo or martial arts or any art form. I have discovered this when I ask the Japanese business person I frequent to translate a word for me or a phrase.
This is why I felt something when I read Mr. Clarke's understanding as to the meaning of the dojo kun. I suspect his assumptions as to meaning being one that is not set in stone, rules, but rather open and fluid information conveyed from Sensei to his Deshi, if you will allow me those terms. Much like the gokui it is a primer, a key, a cornerstone that is associated with the dojo and with the dojo's master. If it inspires and leads then it has done its job. If it ends up as dogmatic doctrine, rules, specifics that control and stifle the dojo then it needs to be visited and studied many more times.
Could this also be the answer to the question, "why are there so many definitions of the kun and gokui?" As I travel this path I am of the understanding, for me, that this is true and in lieu of wondering simply study the one you possess and let it smolder in the unconscious. The unconscious will speak to you and let you find your philosophy of both the kun and the gokui.
The more I learn, the more I study, the more I investigate the more I see that Clarke Sensei hits the nail on the head. The differences as seen in the snapshot on this post indicate that it is truly a personal thing most often provided by the dojo, system, Sensei.
|Click to see full version - it was a larger graphic created by C.E. James ;-)|