You might think that the Dojo Kun is just five sentences you have to learn for gradings but I believe they helped me handle a situation that could have easily escalated to violence.
After a long day at work, I was walking across London on my way back to Euston station. The weather was awful with lashing rain and a keen wind so I had my hood up and was fighting to control an umbrella. I reached a point in my walk where I have to cross three roads in quick succession so, as usual, I looked both ways and crossed when I thought it was safe.
First road crossed, no problem. Second road crossed, no problem. Third road, I looked both ways and couldn’t see any cars so started across the road.
I was almost to the pavement on the other side when I was hit by a courier on a bicycle (I know, Zanshin failure!) I quickly turned to see if everything was ok and apologised (very British) asking if the cyclist was alright.
This seemed to be a trigger for the cyclist to start shouting, swearing and screaming in my face and threatening all sorts of things.
Hitotsu Jinkaku Kansei ni Tsutomoru Koto! - One! To strive for the perfection of character!
It would have been very easy to start shouting and screaming back at him but I thought, 'No, I’m better than that.'
Hitotsu! Reigi O Omonzuru Koto! - One! To honour the principles of etiquette!
I could have sunk to his level and been very rude but I think that is what he wanted, a response from me so he could escalate the situation.
In fact, by not joining in and shouting back it seemed to confuse him and he started to calm down.
I calmly apologised again and asked if he was ok.
Whilst this had been going on I was watching his hands and how close he was whilst I carefully moving into a relaxed ‘ready’ stance (left foot slightly forward, left hand resting against my left cheek – hand actually forming teisho (palm heel strike) and my right hand relaxed across my stomach).
With what he was saying and how he was saying it, I could feel the temptation to hit him rising (and years ago I probably would have) but then a sense of calm came over me.
Hitotsu! Kekki No Yu O Imashimuru Koto! - One! To Guard against impetuous courage!
Whilst I felt sure I could land a jodan teisho to his face at any moment, I thought, why should I?
I wasn’t in a life or death situation; I just had a guy shouting at me.
Realising that I wasn’t reacting to his outburst, he finally got on his bike and rode off and I went home to enjoy Easter with my family.
So, the Dojo Kun is more than just words; trying to live by the morals of the Dojo got me out of something that could have turned nasty!