Adding the suffix “Do” meaning “way, path” i.e., karate-do, implies karate as a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. In traditional karate-do, we always keep in mind that the true opponent is oneself.
The “Do” aspect happens in dojos, generally speaking. If the motivation for your training is improved health, improved focus, the improved synthesis of body and mind, improved self-defense ability and you plan to stay with practice as part of your life for an indefinite period of time, you are practicing a “Do”.
Master Funakoshi also coined the term "Karate-Do", meaning “The Way of Karate”. The life of this gentle, modest man was guided throughout by the principle that karate is a means of perfecting and strengthening the human character.
Karate may be described as an aesthetic course of self-discipline, leading to enlightenment. Literally, Karate-do is the way of the empty hand. This includes the philosophical notion of "emptying" oneself of improper motives; not merely fighting without weapons.
The principles of training go beyond technique and may be applied to ordinary life. Karate training involves instruction in philosophy. Students are expected to learn the underlying philosophical principles through hard work and much practice. By following the technical directions of the instructors, karate-ka will develop a deep understanding of both the technical and philosophical aspects of karate and eventually mind and technique become one in true karate-do.
“Karate-do is a noble martial art, and the reader can rest assured that those who take pride in breaking boards or smashing tiles, or who boast of being able to perform outlandish feats like stripping flesh or plucking out ribs, really know nothing about karate. They are playing around in the leaves and branches of a great tree, without the slightest concept of the trunk.“