Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate, laid out the Twenty Precepts of Karate (Niju kun), which are there as a guide for all karateka to follow and adhere to. These principles form the foundations of Shotokan karate. These twenty principles were based heavily on Bushido and Zen.

The principles allude to notions of respect, humility, compassion, patience, awareness and both an inward and outward calmness.

Shotokan Nij┼ź kun (Shotokan 20 Principles)

1. Karate-do begins with Rei and ends with Rei. (Rei means courtesy / respect)

2. There is no first strike in karate.

3. Karate is an aid to justice.

4. First know yourself then know others.

5. Spirit comes first, technique second.

6. Always be ready to set your mind free.

7. Misfortune comes out of laziness 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 Karate into your everyday life any you will find its subtle secrets.gichin funakoshi quote

11. Karate is like boiling water, without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

12. Do not think that you have to win – rather that you do not have to lose.

13. Make adjustments according to your opponent.

14. The outcome of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.

15. Think of hands and feet as swords.

16. When you leave home, there are a million enemies waiting for you.

17. Beginners must master low stances and posture, natural body positions are for advanced students.

18. Practice prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.

19. Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.

20. Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of karatedo (the Way of karate).

Shotokan Niju Kun

shotokan niju kun

Linden Huckle

About the author

Linden Huckle has been practicing and teaching karate for over 50 years and believes first and foremost, karateka should enjoy their karate. He says 'there is nothing better than seeing a person develop into a great person through their karate practice, while at the same time enjoying karate.'

Linden Huckle