OMOIYARI – Philosophy

“Strong and caring people are the pillars of society and Karate helps cultivate them.” Les Bubka

Omoiyari is one of the Japanese expressions that is very difficult to explain to a non-Japanese person. Some say it is thoughtfulness or as Sugiyama Lebra defines Omoiyari “the ability and willingness to feel what others are feeling, to vicariously experience the pleasure or pain that they are undergoing and to help them satisfy their wishes… without being told verbally” [1]. For me personally it means simply caring for others and myself.

This type of caring is sincere and not motivated by reward, we care for others without seeking compliments or gratitude. If we help others expecting an acknowledgment with a ‘thank you’ we are not having omoiyari and we do this for pure purpose of building our ego.

That is why I encourage my students to be helpful to anyone in the dojo as we are like a family where all support each other, but this care is not limited to dojo: we need to care about and help people everywhere.

I often see, especially in big dojos, students training in isolation not willing to interact or share their knowledge and experience with anyone.  We all need to train hard but some Karate adepts coming to a dojo with the attitude of “I’m here to train, to be better myself and I’m focusing on myself”.

This is not the right attitude, this type of training is creating strong egocentric people who in life are so busy focusing on themselves that they ignore all others who might be in need. What we need in society is more empathetic people who can help others.  Through Karate training with omoiyari in mind we can achieve this.

[1] More about the Omoiyari concept


Les Bubka

About the author: Les Bubka is an experienced martial artist, personal trainer and therapist who specialises in posture, mobility and Karate.  Les works with a wide variety of clients including martial artists and athletes as well as those suffering with postural dysfunction or those who wish to improve their fitness and wellbeing

Categories: Philosophy

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