Ikann — Consistency 一貫

Ikann is consistency: the practice of continuing to work on goals until they are achieved. Without ikann, very little is achieved.

Ikann 一貫 [pronounced "eee-khan"] is a core concept in karatedō and one of the most important concepts necessary for success in all endeavors.

Ikann is consistency: the quality and practice of continuing to work on goals and targets until they are achieved.

Without ikann, progress grinds to a halt and inevitably stutters and sputters. Realistically, the inevitability of this fact lies in the fundamental nature of the universe: we will face challenges, many of them unforseen, in every endeavor we undertake.

The Message is in the Kanji

Examine the kanji for ikann carefully and imagine that you see an arrow aimed at a target. Isn't that the nature of consistency? To keep aiming at your target, and continuing to take shots at it until we hit the bullseye?

Consistency doesn't guarantee success, and in fact, it invites you to consider that failure is an important and normal part of striving to move forward. Otherwise, why do we keep aiming at the target? Wouldn't it be enought to just fire once, if success was always assured?

Of course we can't just fire once. We will miss many times, and have to try again. In fact, we likely will miss more than we succeed. And "missing the target" can take on many meanings: not just failing, but actually regressing, or perhaps having to backtrack and then find a different way to move towards our target.

Consistency Doesn't Assure Success, But Success Requires It

While ikann doesn't guarantee our success, very little success is possible without it. We often set lofty goals (which is good!) but fail to carry through on striving to achieve them. How many people do you personally know who are "going to write the great novel" someday; or perhaps begin training in karatedo "but not yet"?

Those "somedays" never come, do they?

As a karateka, you know that training is hard. Achieving anything of value is hard. And that the only way to make progress on the dojo floor is to train consistently.

The world outside the dojo floor is no different. Consistency is the key to success in all things.

Kanji/Katakana Meaning
one (ichi) but combined with 貫, creates ikann, consistency
pierce (nuki) figuratively, "target pierced"

Editor's Note: This lecture was first delivered by Sensei in San Rafael, California on 19 March 2014, and then again at the Goju Karate NYC Dojo on 1 February 2023.