Outside the dojo – When can I use Karate?

Jaden Smith the Karate Kid‘Karate ni sente nashi’

‘There is no first attack in Karate’

The skills you are taught in karate provide you with the ability to defend yourself in life threatening situations. These skills give a karate ka power to injure, disable or even kill an attacker.


It has been said that if a karate ka violates the maxim ‘Karate ni sente nashi’, they are not practising karate. Karate is not only a form of defence. It contains a profound philosophy, and in its ultimate form it is a way of life, with its end purpose in peace and harmony, not violence.

The student who learns karate for violent purposes is not only missing the whole point; he will not last long in Washinkai Karate.

Every practitioner of karate must make it a foundation of their training that the skills they have learnt must not be used otherwise than in defence of life.

It is important to realise that this maxim of karate goes much further than its literal interpretation. It is a statement about general conduct. You should avoid confrontation, in favour of conciliation, where possible, and never put yourself in a position where you might have to use your karate.

The Law

Aside from the philosophy of karate, there is the legal position to consider.

In the recent past, the press have reported a number of cases where victims of crime have used violent means to prevent crime, or restrain criminals.

The police have prosecuted, or the criminal has taken a private court action against, the victims in these cases. Often the victim has lost. The reason is almost always because the victim cannot show that he used reasonable force.

The law in Spain is governed by the “ley de proporcionalidad” (law of proportionality) which states that the harm done to an aggressor can not be greater than the anticipated threat.

There are many grey areas, where it is unfortunately impossible to say what amounts to reasonable force and what is unreasonable.

You should avoid having to make the choice, by avoiding confrontation, and situations that may end in violence. Always choose non violent solutions.

General Conduct

It is likely that you will find karate influencing your life outside the dojo in many ways.

You should try to ensure that any new characteristics you develop from karate are developed positively. As you rise through the grades, you should gain a further understanding of the background of karate and its philosophies. Try to understand and think about the ideas and develop your own views.

It is perhaps obvious to say that certain types of conduct are regarded as sufficiently serious to merit disciplinary action being taken against the offender, even though the conduct may be unconnected with karate as such. For example, conviction of a criminal offence would usually be a matter for investigation by a disciplinary committee.

The higher the grade of a karate ka  the higher is the standard expected of him. An instructor is expected to have the highest standard of all, because he is entrusted not only with the role of teaching, but also his students are often impressionable children. An instructor who does not keep his personal conduct up to the necessary standard can expect action being taken against him without hesitation.