The amalgamation of eastern and western philosophies within Idokan Karate




martial arts, combat sports, philosophy, ethics, religion, Taoism, Christianity


The authors received no funding for this work


Every school of the Japanese martial art of karate possesses special values and norms unique to its practice. Unsurprisingly, the philosophy of Idokan karate is therefore similar to other schools while remaining distinct in the myriad of martial art practices. Idokan karate possesses a practical philosophy (i.e., applicable to everyday life) influenced by Eastern and Western belief systems that are internalized and utilized by its practitioners as forms of today’s civilian warrior path. This single case study examines the prominent Idokan ethics, values, and rules as well as details its specific and symbolic content. It makes use of the hermeneutic phenomenology research method to present a content analysis of literature on Idokan within the wider discourse of martial arts studies. A broad discourse analysis of these topics in both scientific studies and popular publications was conducted. In doing so, this study’s practical implications are that it not only provides a glimpse into the uniqueness of Idokan karate philosophy but also into that of the vastness of the great martial arts menagerie. Idokan karate philosophy is derived distinctively from its founders’ understandings of Chinese and Japanese martial arts, Taoism, and Christianity and dictates practitioners a unique morality. Such teleology comes from special values, rules, and aims embedded in Idokan teachings. In normative ethics, the Decalogue and nobility of spirit (the Homo Creator Nobilis) are most important. Tao in Idokan is understood as God’s Word, the principle of love, and the way of (Christian) heaven.


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Author Biographies

Wojciech Jan Cynarski, University of Rzeszów

Wojciech J. Cynarski, PhD (Poland), is a full professor at the University of Rzeszów in Rzeszów, Poland. He is the Founder and President of Idokan Poland Association (IPA) and International Martial Arts and Combat Sports Scientific Society (IMACSSS), and the editor of the Ido Movement for Culture. Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology since 2000, which is indexed in Scopus and Web of Science. Since 2005, Professor Cynarski has been the Chair of Socio-Cultural Foundation for Physical Education and Sport at University of Rzeszow. He is the current president of IMACSSS and of the IPA. He has published over 800 scientific works, including 20 books (monographs and manuals). His major scientific interests concern sociology of culture, tourism, and sport; philosophy; pedagogy; and martial arts. He is a high-ranking karate black belt and an honorary black belt in Taekwondo. Email:

John Arthur Johnson, National Coalition of Independent Scholars

John A. Johnson, PhD (USA), was an assistant professor at the Department of Taekwondo in Keimyung University (Daegu, Korea). He was the executive director of the International Association for Taekwondo Research (IATR) and is currently the vice president of the International Academic Center for Taekwondo (iACT). He is also the editor of iACT Publishing, an academic textbook publishing company. His research lies at the intersections of Taekwon-Do international relations, peace studies, sports pedagogy, and martial arts philosophy. Over the years he has taught ITF Taekwon-Do and Hapkido classes and/or workshops in Thailand, South Korea, Poland, and the USA. He lived in South Korea from 1999-2021 where he earned his PhD. He has spent nearly four decades studying martial arts and has earned high-ranking black belts from the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and the Korea Hapkido Federation. Email:


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How to Cite

Cynarski, W. J., & Johnson, J. A. (2023). The amalgamation of eastern and western philosophies within Idokan Karate. Revista de Artes Marciales Asiáticas, 18(2), 66–79.