The 20 Principles of Shotokan Karate

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The 20 Principles of Shotokan Karate

This page details the 20 key principles (or precepts) that guide Shotokan Karate. These guiding principles were developed by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate. These principles are also known as Niju Kun.

For additional karate philosophies & concepts, please visit the main Martial Arts Philosophy section.

Precepts or Principles of Shotokan Karate

  1. Karate begins and ends with rei (respect). FYI - Bowing symbolizes this respect.
  2. There is no first strike in karate.
  3. Karate stands on the side of justice.
  4. First know yourself, then know others.
  5. Mentality over technique.
  6. The heart must be set free.
  7. Calamity springs from carelessness.
  8. Karate goes beyond the dojo.
  9. Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
  10. Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
  11. Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
  12. Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
  13. Make adjustments according to your opponent.
  14. The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
  15. Think of hands and feet as swords.
  16. When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
  17. Formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
  18. Perform 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 the Way.

Video on the 20 Principles of Shotokan Karate

Reference Sources

  1. Wikipedia, Niju Kun,, Added - 09/18/15

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