When you reach senior belt you are expected to guide the junior belts when they are beginning Karate such as showing by example. To advance from one rank to the next, students typically complete tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before a panel of judges or their teacher. View Karate Fundamentals ( kihon きほん ) »

Nijū kun ( 二十訓 )

"Twenty Instructions" of the Okinawan martial arts

The Shōtōkan nijū kun (Japanese language: 松濤館二十訓) are the "twenty instructions" of the Okinawan martial arts master Gichin Funakoshi, whose pen name was Shōtō. All students of Shōtōkan karate are encouraged to live, practice, and teach the principles to others.


Funakoshi trained in Shuri-te and Naha-te from an early age. He ultimately developed his own martial art, which he believed leveraged the benefits of these two. Gaining the attention of a larger audience, Funakoshi later ventured to disseminate his art throughout Japan, and created the nijū kun to assist his karateka in their training.

Calligraphy of the Niju kun
Nijū kun ( 二十訓 ) Twenty Instructions


While it has been suggested that the Shōtōkan niju kun were documented by around 1890, they were first actually published in a book in 1938 The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate as:


Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
Hitotsu, karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto o wasuru na

There is no first strike in karate.
Hitotsu, karate ni sente nashi

Karate stands on the side of justice.
Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke

First know yourself, then know others.
Hitotsu, mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire

Mentality over technique.
Hitotsu, gijitsu yori shinjitsu

The heart must be set free.
Hitotsu, kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu

Calamity springs from carelessness.
Hitotsu, wazawai wa ketai ni seizu

Karate goes beyond the dojo.
Hitotsu, dojo nomino karate to omou na

Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
Hitotsu, karate-do no shugyo wa isssho de aru

Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
Hitotsu, ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; sokoni myomi ari

Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
Hitotsu, karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru

Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
Hitotsu, katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo

Make adjustments according to your opponent.
Hitotsu, tekki ni yotte tenka seyo

The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
Hitotsu, tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari

Think of hands and feet as swords.
Hitotsu, hi to no te-ashi wa ken to omoe

When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
Hitotsu, danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari

Formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
Hitotsu, kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai

Perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
Hitotsu, kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono

Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.
Hitotsu, chikara no kyojaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu

Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.
Hitotsu, tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo


The precepts are not numbered or ordered; each begins with hitotsu meaning "one" or "first" to show that each rule has the same level of importance as the others.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nijū kun", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.