Written by Shihan Tom Callahan 

The average karate-ka or martial artist here in the States goes to a dojo 2-3 times per week for 1- 1.5 hours per session.

Basically 3—5 hours per week. Let’s call it an average of 4 hours. That is out of a total of 168 hours IN A FULL WEEK.

So, 168 hours in a week…factor in your sleeping, so basically 112 awake hours per week, training 4 hours per week is 3.57% of your time spent training. Keep it simple…. 3.5 %. Of course, we have work and some of us have family so that is also factored in.

BUT…I hope you see my point. The fact remains that only 3.5% of your time is spent training. Thats it. (For most of you).  Many of us claim karate is my life!!! I devote my life to karate ! Yelling it so everyone hears. 3.5% of your time.

Let’s talk about BUDO and the Martial Arts and what this all really means for us.

Training in a BUDO art has different meanings to different people but let’s break it down a bit. Let’s break it down:

BUDO– “The Martial Way” BU coming from the word BUSHI meaning warrior, but the full word BUDO coming from the word BUSHIDO the way of the Samurai….that “WAY” being living by a code of ethics or virtues. BUDO was the expression and psychology, if you will, of BUSHIDO with the loose definition of BUDO to end conflict as evidenced by the anagram fo 2 swords crossing.

BUDO as I say, comes out of the BUSHIDO virtues that include:

Justice: making decisions for the right reasons

Courage: courage to do the right thing, and not always what the popular or easy thing is

Benevolence: Meaning that if you have to fight, you are fighting for the right reason and that you show mercy at the right time

Respect: Respect in all things. Life, one’s elders, and other people’s belief systems

Honesty: Being honest breeds trust and respect

Honor: The warrior tries to be honorable in all actions and deeds. This was a highly thought of aspiration

Loyalty: Loyalty was incredibly important. They treated each other like family. Loyalty also breeds trust and of course they needed to trust each other on the battlefield and off.

Martial: Of course comes from Military. There is a certain way things are done. Aspire for perfection in every movement and in every thing you do. Whether it is making your bed to washing dishes or to delivering a work assignment. Whether it is in your KATA or in your speech. MOST importantly striving for perfection of ones CHARACTER. Character alludes back to the 7 virtues of BUSHIDO. When you look at these virtues and put them all together what does it add up to? It adds up to ones CHARACTER. This is the Martial way.

ART: Why is what we do an art? What is the definition of art?

The dictionary defines art as : A skill acquired by experience, study, or observation, or a production or expression of aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

For me art is simply something that you MUST do out of love for that expression of skill and beauty. It is something you do as OFTEN AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! You can’t help it. You love it so much.

So when I look at Martial Arts and then more specifically BUDO Karate, I think of all of these things. It is not a hobby, it is not a sport, although there is certainly a sporting aspect to it.

SO when I see 3.5% on average the amount someone is training, then I have to question do you REALLY love what you are doing? It is affecting your character. Are you trying your very best to improve your character and live up to these ideals? Are you seeing the BIG picture of your training or are you looking at it myopically as a way to win a trophy, to show off to your friends or to just get strong?

Mas Oyama said: Karate is Budo and if Budo is removed from Karate it is nothing more than sport karate, show karate, or even fashion karate-the idea of training merely to be fashionable.

So please, reflect on this. Question yourself. Ask yourself; WHY DO I TRAIN, and AM I TRAINING ENOUGH? The answer to the 2nd question is almost assuredly NO. The beauty is, the more you train the more you fall in love with it, and the more you will appreciate the ART part. The more you train in the martial way, the more you will genuinely become a BUDO Karate-Ka encompassing all these aforementioned virtues thus achieving the ULTIMATE TRUTH; improving your character and “knowing yourself.”

I would like you to accept this lesson and have you reflect on WHY you train, How much you train, and the SPIRIT in which you train.


You can look to others for inspiration but don’t rely on others for inspiration.

Thank you