Niju Kun (20 Precepts)

The Niju Kun, or Twenty Precepts, are a list of principles created by the founder of Shotokan Karate, Gichin Funakoshi. His intent was for Shotokan to be a means of developing the body, mind, and soul of the practitioner, both inside and out of the dojo. Each precept is meant to be a concise statement that is open to interpretation and to be used to guide for karateka through their lifetime of training.

The Japanese kanji for the Niju Kun. At the top of each precept is a horizontal line that in kanji means hitotsu and denotes the number one. In doing this, Funakoshi was saying that there is no order or degree of importance for the Nuju kun. All of the precepts are equally important and must be thought of as such.

Niju Kun (20 Precepts)

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

  • There is no first strike in karate.

  • Karate is an aid to justice.

  • First know yourself before attempting to know others.

  • Spirit first, technique second.

  • Always be ready to release your mind.

  • Accidents arise from negligence.

  • Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.

  • It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.

  • Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).

  • Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

  • Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

  • Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.

  • The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.

  • Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.

  • When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.

  • Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.

  • Practicing a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.

  • Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.

  • Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.