MuDoKai Origins, Symbol and Strategy


April 2017 - Click Here to Download the Full Newsletter! pdf icon2

When my Sensei, Meiji Suzuki, came to visit the University Karate Center in 1982 we discussed the new system of Mugendo, or “unlimited way”, which he had developed to encompass the martial arts he was teaching at his academy in London, England. As one of Suzuki Sensei's senior students, I was extremely excited by the new technical developments that were coming out of his specific martial arts insights and wanted to adjust the curriculum I was teaching, as soon as possible, to incorporate them into our regular training practices.

April 2017 005During the course of my discussion with Grandmaster Suzuki, he asked me if I would take on the responsibility of being the Chief Instructor for Mugendo in the United States. After due consideration I accepted this responsibility, and in recognition, was given the opportunity by him to be the Chief Instructor (Shihan) of my own style within the Mugendo system. Subsequently my style was named MuDoKai, meaning literally, “void way association”. More usually the translation would be “the association of students of the unlimited way”. I created the logo for this new style by combining several ancient symbols drawn from elements used by both Meiji Suzuki, and his teacher, the late professor Hironori Ohtsuka, the founder of the Wado-Ryu karate style.
The MuDoKai logo that appears on the patch is of significance, not only from a philosophical point of view, but also a strategic one. It is useful to consider the logo, and how the emblem itself can be considered as a tool for strategic thinking, not only in a martial arts context, but also in everyday life. The logo can even act as a yantra or symbolic shape for purposes of focus, concentration, and meditation.
April 2017 004

We can first look at the meaning of the star shape which represents the four ways to move towards the center symbolized by the red sun in the middle of our emblem. The four ways are four ways to sense within ourselves, and approximate to our four external senses (if you combine smell and taste into a single sense). The point at twelve o'clock we will call the point of fire (vision), the point at three o'clock is the point of water (smell & taste), the point a six o'clock is the point of earth or ground (touch) and the point at nine o'clock is the point of wind or air (hearing).
When sparring or fighting we have strategic options. We can press forward and move in to attack our opponent (Fire). We can move in and out, looking to time our attack to our best advantage (Water). We can stand our ground, and look to block and counter our opponents attack (Earth). Or we can lead our opponent in a circle, to set up an opportunity to draw a straight attack which we can sidestep and counterattack (Wind).

Our patch is symbolic of these strategic principles. The dove (bird) on the patch is derived from the Wado Ryu symbol of Professor Hironori Ohtsuka, the Sensei of my Sensei. Wado Ryu means “Way of Peace”, and the dove is a symbol of peace. On our logo the dove is emerging from the center (Sun) with its wings extending to the very edge of the void (the black background). This is symbolic of peace coming from within us, and extending to everything in our lives.
Shihan Robert H. Mason © 2017