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                                                                21 October 2008

                                                                Jake Eckenrode

      This explanation will attempt to address the origin of the Isshinryu Code of Conduct which I wrote in 1960 while a karate student at Master Tatsuo Shimabuku’s Agena Dojo on Okinawa.  I sensed an obligation to discuss this matter because some Isshinryu sensei’s have been asking questions following distribution of the “code” at the Bohan/Niemira karate event in Fredericksburg, Va. in June of this year.  It should be noted that the original “code” was slightly revised for grammar and clarity just prior to the aforementioned event.

     Please know that I am solely responsible for the content of this Isshinryu Code of Conduct.  It was written based upon my experiences as a 19-year old student while training at Agena Dojo.  This “code” does not represent an official position of any Isshinryu organization [as I remember, there were no Isshinryu organizations in 1960].  In addition, I did not consult Master Shimabuku or any high-ranking ka’s at the dojo.  This “code” simply represents my observations of human behavior and traditional karate values being taught at the dojo.

     An individual central to the ideals expressed in this “code” is Tokumura Kensho.  Tokumura was a 15-year old karate student when we became friends and training partners.  I was a fortunate recipient of his guidance for over one year.  Tokumura’s character, friendship and willingness to teach me karate techniques have always been a great influence in my life.  Many of you know Tokumura as a sensei, friend and person of genuine character.  His character attributes at age 15 have and will continue to blossom with every passing day.

     A personal interest of mine may provide some insight about the origin and reasons for writing this “code”.  I have always been a keen observer of many sporting events.  Of primary interest is always individual and team behavior exhibited during training and competition.  The display of character by those winning or losing and performance in high-pressure situations is a valuable learning experience.  At Shimabuku’s dojo I found it to be exciting to stretch my sports mind-set in an attempt to understand human interaction and the ideals associated with a traditional oriental art form.

     In closing, I readily admit this “code” is most likely in error and not representative of the core beliefs of Isshinryu Karate.  Please know that it has never been my intent to offend or impose the ideas expressed in the “code” upon the Isshinryu community.  This “code” simply reflects what a naive, 19-year old karate student thought and felt while learning Isshinryu Karate at Master Shimabuku’s Agena Dojo.

Sincerely and with Great Respect,

Jake Eckenrode


The purpose of learning Isshinryu karate as taught by Tatsuo Shimabuku, 10-dan, master and originator of this art form, is to make a personal commitment to mental discipline and physical conditioning.  It is of paramount importance to develop and nurture the virtues of courtesy, respect and humility to the extent they become dominant characteristics of one’s daily life.  Physical training is designed to gain a mastery of body movements while learning offensive and defensive fighting techniques that strengthen both mind and body.  One can become a very confident individual through intense training in karate.  As a member of an Isshinryu dojo, I accept the following code of conduct and declare that my intentions will be:  

1.     To strive to gain the understanding that a humble and self confident person cannot be offended.

2.     To know one must not sacrifice the development of mental virtue to goals of physical achievement.

3.     To be courteous, friendly, and helpful at all times

4.     To display respect to the art of karate and to fellow karate-ka’s and to know that respect flows in both directions among those of all ranks within the dojo.

5.     To accept that higher rank means one must be a better servant because service to others is a primary attribute of leadership

6.     To be content and submissive never resorting to physical violence carried to the ultimate point except in training.

7.     To understand that the focus of physical is the perfection of techniques as expressed in kata and kumite.

A Karate-ka must be a gentle person in every way and a friend to all.  One who learns karate should always be sound in mind and keep a mild attitude, and while training, one must instill these ideals in the heart and make them a part of one’s daily life. 

Jake Eckenrode 1960 (revised 2008)