The 20 Precepts of Karate according to Gichin Funakoshi


Niju kun or the twenty precepts of karate where formulated by the father of modern karate Gichin Funakoshi before he and his students founded the Nihon Karate Koyokai, or Japanese Karate Association in May of 1949.


Over the years there have been many attempts to translate the twenty precepts of karate into English, with many variations put forward as to what the literal translation actually is.


However, I like the translation put forward below which I obtained from the Japanese Karate Association, who after all, are the ones in the best position to speak on these principles.


I won’t go into any great detail on the precepts in this post as I could literally write a seperate post on each precept which is my intention in the future.




The 20 Precepts of Karate

  1. Karate begins and ends with courtesy
  2. There is no first attack in karate
  3. Karate supports righteousness
  4. First understand yourself, then understand others
  5. The art of developing the mind is more important than the art of applying technique
  6. The mind needs to be freed
  7. Trouble is born of negligence
  8. Do not think karate belongs only in the dojo
  9. Karate training requires a lifetime
  10. Transform everything into karate; therein lies its exquisiteness
  11. Genuine karate is like hot water; it cools down if you do not keep on heating it
  12. Do not think of winning; you must think of not losing
  13. Transform yourself according to the opponent
  14. The outcome of the fight depends on one’s control
  15. Imagine one’s arms and legs as swords
  16. Once you leave the shelter of home, there are a million enemies
  17. Postures are for the beginner; later they are natural positions
  18. Do the kata correctly; the real fight is a different matter
  19. Do not forget control of the dynamics of power, the elasticity of the body and the speed of the technique
  20. Always be good at the application of everything you have learned


Renshi Mark Szalajko
Bujutsu Martial Arts and Fitness Centre