Shotokan Philosophy

Gichin Funakoshi laid out the Twenty Precepts of Karate, (or Niju kun) which form the foundations of the art, before his students established the JKA. Within these twenty
shotokan
principles, based heavily on Bushido and Zen, lies the philosophy of Shotokan. The principles allude to notions of humility, respect, compassion, patience, and both an inward and outward calmness. It was Funakoshi’s belief that through karate practice and observation of these 20 principles, the karateka would improve their person. The Dojo kun lists five philosophical rules for training in the dojo; seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor to excel, respect others, refrain from violent behavior. The Dojo kun is usually posted on a wall in the dojo, and some shotokan clubs recite the Dojo kun at the beginning and/or end of each class to provide motivation and a context for further training.

The Twenty precepts

1. Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with rei.

2. There is no first strike in karate.

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.

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.

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