Philosophy of Karate


The 20 Precepts [Niju Kun] or Guiding Principles of

Gichin Funakoshi Sensei.

  1. Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with rei.
  2. There is no first strike (attack) in karate [either mentally or physically] - “Karate ni sente nashi”
  3. Karate is an aid to justice.
  4. First know yourself before attempting to know others.
  5. Spirit first, technique second.
  6. Always be ready to release your mind.
  7. Accidents arise from negligence.
  8. Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.
  9. It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.
  10. Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).
  11. Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool. (qv: also by Tsunetomo Yamamoto)
  12. Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.
  13. Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
  14. The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.
  15. Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.
  16. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.
  17. Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.
  18. Practicing a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.
  19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.
  20. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.

(compare the above with the Twenty Samurai Precepts)

"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants"     

Read for yourself in more detail in the The 20 Guiding Principles of KARATE by Gichin Funakoshi Gichin Funakoshi


or The 20 Precepts: & Other Essays on the Philosophy of Karate Do by Gichin Funakoshi (Vincent A. Cruz (Author)) Gichin Funakoshi

another really good version of the Niju Kun (20 Precepts) is the interpretation by Teruyuki Okazaki

called Perfection of Character Perfection of Character: Guiding Principles for the Martial Arts & Everyday Life


click here for the 10 Precepts by Anko Itosu

click here for the "Seven Virtues of Bu" of Matsumura



The Three Cardinal Principles of Kata by Gichin Funakoshi

1. Chikara No Kyojaku (Power Control)

2. Karada No ShinShiku (Expansion & Contraction of Muscles)

3. Waza No Kamkyu (Speed & Rythm Control)


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Updated: Friday, 10 September 2010