Many of my students ask me about Funakoshi sensei. They want to know more about this karate master who we bow to at the beginning and the end of our classes. They ask me how he came up with the “Dojo Kun” that we recite at the end of each class. I inform the children that Funakoshi sensei was an author, a poet and a school teacher, as well as a karate master. In the book “The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate, Niju Kun” By Funakoshi Gichin (11/10/1868 – 04/26/1957) you can read an interpretation of the 20 precepts or favoured sayings of the master.
Below I provide the sayings in Japanese and in English. The meaning of each one is open to interpretation.
1. Karate-do wa rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru koto wo wasuruna.
Karate begins and ends with courtesy.
2. Karate ni sente nashi.
There is no first attack in karate.
3. Karate wa gi no tasuke.
Karate is an assistance to justice.
4. Mazu jiko wo shire, shikoshite tao wo shire.
Know yourself first, before you know others.
5. Gijutsu yori shinjutsu.
Spirit before technique.
6. Kokoro wa hanatan koto wo yosu.
Be ready to free your mind.
7. Wazawai wa getai ni shozu.
Accidents come from laziness.
8. Dojo nomino karate to omou na.
Karate training goes beyond the dojo.
9. Karate no shugyo wa issho de aru.
You will never stop learning in karate.
10. Arai-yuru mono wo karate-ka seyo, soko ni myo-mi ari.
Apply karate to everything. Therein lies it’s beauty.
11. Karate wa yu no goto shi taezu natsudo wo ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru.
Karate is like boiling water. If not given heat, it will go cold.
12. Katsu kangae wa motsu na makenu kangae wa hitsuyo.
Do not think of winning. Instead, think that you must never lose.
13. Tekki ni yotte tenka seyo.
Make adjustments according to your opponent.
14. Tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari.
The outcome of a fight depends on how you handle weaknesses and strengths.
15. Hito no te ashi wo ken to omoe.
Think of hands and feet as swords.
16. Danshi mon wo izureba hyakuman no tekki ari.
When you step outside your own gate, you face a million enemies.
17. Kamae wa shoshinsha ni ato wa shizentai.
Fixes positions are for beginners: later, one moves naturally.
18. Kata wa tadashiku jissen wa betsu mono.
Kata is practised perfectly, a real fight is another thing.
19. Chikara no kyojaku, karada no shinshuku, waza no kankyu wo wasaruna.
Hard and soft, tension and relaxation, quick and slow, all connected in the technique.
20. Tsune ni shinen kufu seyo.
Think of ways to apply these precepts every day.
Copyright © 2020 Paul Yanuziello, All rights reserved.