Japan Karate-Do Dhammika Shito-Ryu Kai (JKDS) is a karate association for traditional karate in Shito-Ryu which was founded in 1999 by Shihan Athula Minithanthri. Since its founding, the JKDS and Shihan Athula Minithanthri have been closely linked with each other. He’s not only the founder, but also the president of the association.
To answer the question ‘What is Dhammika’, a short excursion into Buddhism is helpful. You may have heard of “Dharma” or “Dhamma”. Dharma is an old Buddhist word which is derived from Sanskrit, an old variety of an ancient Indian language. It’s very close to the word Dhamma because both mean the same thing, with the only difference that Dhamma is not the Sanskrit but the Pali form of it. Dhamma has several meanings. According to one possible reading, it means the teaching of the Buddha and his cosmic law & order he proclaimed. Depending on each of the Buddhist directions, there are a few other meanings. The term Dhamma is also used as a collective term for the totality of all phenomena.
It’s not easy to understand the true meaning of Dharma nor of Dhammika because there is no translation for Dharma in Western languages, but broken down to simple and very much simplified, you can say that the word Dharmika (Sanskrit) or Dhammika (Pali) refers to a person who lives by the Dhamma on all levels. In relation to the teachings of the Buddha, Dhammika is the pious and the righteous.
This thought played a huge role in the naming of Dhammika Karate-Do. Dhammika Karate-Do is said to be the karate of the righteous and thus the Dhammika Karate-Do is the karate of the righteous karateka. On the one hand, the karateka should be in harmony with himself, and on the other hand also with the nature and with his environment. The righteous karateka not only knows about human values, but also lives them. He knows exactly when he has to fight and when he not. In short, he not only strives for the attainment of ideals, adherence to values and principles, and for perfection of his character, but he also lives this with every fiber of his body and mind. To emphasize these thoughts of Dhammika Karate-Do, Shihan Athula decided that the well-known Dharma wheel has been part of the logo.
What are the main objectives of Dhammika-Ha?
If you want to understand the motives why Dhammika-Ha was founded, you have to dip into the past and to consider the development of karate. Long before karate was recognized as a Japanese martial art by the Japanese Martial Arts Committee, it was practiced in secret by its grandmasters until the end of the 19th century. Until then, karate was usually only passed on from master to student. Sometimes, the knowledge in karate even was passed on within their own families only.
When there was a change in society from 1868 onwards, things in Japan and on Okinawa changed, and karate was no longer practiced in secret. It made its way out of the shadows into the light again. The change in society was caused by the restructuring of the Japanese state which went hand in hand with the renewal of the power of the Tenno and the abolition of the shogunate. With the wave emigration from Okinawa to Hawaii at the beginning of the 20th century, the spread of karate began: first in Hawaii, later in the USA and then in Europe.
As far as we know from tradition, several karate grandmasters such as Soke Kenwa Mabuni, Soke Choki Motobu, Soke Hironori Otsuka, and Soke Chojun Miyagi came together in these times of changes in society, and shared their knowledge and expertise with each other as they also gained further knowledge as well. These meetings were like a council of experts and often took place in Soke Yasuhiro Konishi’s house: sometimes on a single day, sometimes for several weeks and even months. According to the records, Kenwa Mabuni even spent about ten months in Konishi’s house and learned several katas from him in 1927 and 1928.
Although karate is rich in tradition, it wasn’t spared from changes due to the many social changes, and the modernization and systemization of it. Over the course of time, some karate organizations have reoriented and split off itself. Even within the same karate styles, subsequent masters of karate made adjustments and changes to the old tradition Japanese katas and its technics; sometimes for political, sometimes for personal reasons.
Because of the fact that the traditional katas have been changed, Shihan Athula not only perceives a lack of respect for the grandmasters, but also realizes the danger that important knowledge including its original meaning will be lost. Encouraged by his previous karate teachers including grandmasters of the first and second generations who all confirmed him a great grasp, he decided to found his own karate association: Japan Karate-Do Dhammika-Ha Shito-Ryu Kai.
With the founding of his own association, Shihan Athula has made it his business to preserve this knowledge. For Dhammika-Ha, it doesn’t matter from which karate master or from which Shito-Ryu style the traditional Japanese katas come from, nor which Shito-Ryu style is presented. It’s only important that they are preserved in their traditional form.
Overview of other main objectives
- Spreading the art of Karate-Do through international cooperation free of any prejudices.
- Promoting and preserving the art of traditional karate in Shito-Ryu.
- Preservation of the katas in their original form to:
- pay respect and tribute to the deceased grand masters, and
- prevent their meaning from being lost
⇒ because of a lack of attention and / or a lack of understanding, we already lost the meaning of some old katas and its parts.
- Training with like-minded people in a comradely and (family-) friendly atmosphere.
- Teaching values like discipline, respect, courtesy, honesty, gratitude, and more.