Philosophy & History

Seido Karate is a formal, traditional style of karate, into which I have tried to distill the essence of what I have learned about the martial arts in over 45 years of study, practice and teaching. – KAICHO TADASHI NAKAMURA

The World Seido Karate Organization officially opened its headquarters on October 15, 1976, in New York City. It is a worldwide organization, with thriving branches in such diverse places as Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of South Africa, England, and South America. However, within Seido, growth of the branches has not been pursued for its own sake; quality of instruction and of the students is paramount.

One of the goals of Seido Karate training is to develop strong bodies, which contributes to health and a general sense of self-confidence and well-being. In addition to developing students with the highest level of physical skills, Seido aims to develop individuals of the highest moral character, individuals who can then make significant contributions to a better life in the family, the work place, and in society at large.

The Seido emblem is the five-petaled blossom of the Japanese plum tree, which is also my family’s emblem. It is my wish to carry over into Seido many of the things I learned from my parents. I also wish to stress that all members of the World Seido Karate Organization are members of a family. Only by sharing and learning from others do we ourselves become whole and fully realize our human potential.

I founded Seido on three fundamental principles: respect, love, and obedience. These are represented by the three circles in the center of the Seido emblem. They embody a way, or do (pronounced “dough”), of being in everyday life, and are essential to a healthy and productive practice of the martial arts.

If we truly have respect for others, we will inevitably treat them with courtesy and equanimity. It is when we do not have respect for others that we become angry with them and engage in destructive action. This lack of respect for others is related to a lack of respect for ourselves. Karate, through the practice of Zen meditation, makes us look at ourselves; if we do this sincerely, we find our beautiful, truly human core. When we see ourselves clearly, not with vain love or callous self-indulgence, but with a healthy respect, we inevitably see others the same way.

Love is the most overused and misunderstood word in the English language. Love grows out of respect; the two go hand in hand. We must love our parents, who are our first and most important teachers. Our love for them can grow out of a real respect and appreciation for the sacrifice and suffering they have endured for our comfort. Love, founded on a genuine compassion for others, is something we should train ourselves to extend freely. When we love freely, we can give and share everything, and need hold on to nothing: our hands can be empty. Karate, incidentally, means “empty hand.”

In the basic sense, obedience signifies being obedient to the rules and regulations of the dojo and the organization. This is not out of a blind, military mind-set, but out of commitment to training and developing oneself. Obedience also means obeying one’s parents, maintaining humility and keeping one’s ego in check. We should also be obedient to the laws of our community and society. The samurai loved rectitude, or right action, and we should feel the same way. Morally and ethically, in all situations, we should train ourselves to love the just and honorable way of acting.

At Seido, I want to create a secure place for anyone of any age or physical ability to train and learn. This is true at any Seido dojo, no matter where it is located. My hope is that people who study karate will be able to enrich their daily lives by applying what they have learned to improve upon their regular roles and routines, and to also become contributors to the community and society at large. One’s study of karate should not be limited to personal training; it should extend to one’s ability to care for those who are less fortunate. The presently existing programs provide people who are blind, deaf, victims of domestic abuse, learning disabled, or are homeless the opportunity to experience the benefits of karate. At Seido, we all train as a family. Those who have more should share with others, giving advice and encouragement.