SKA so-cal

Shotokan Karate School

Palm Springs, California, USA



While it has been suggested that the Shotokan niju kun was originally documented about 1890, it first appeared in print in1938, in a book written by Gichin Funakoshi, The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate :

  1. 1.Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.

  2. 2.There is no first strike in karate.

  1. 3.Karate stands on the side of justice.

  2. 4.First know yourself, then know others.

  3. 5.Mentality over technique.

  4. 6.The heart must be set free.

  5. 7.Calamity springs from carelessness.

  6. 8.Karate goes beyond the dojo.

  7. 9.Karate is a lifelong pursuit.

  8. 10. Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.

  9. 11. Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.

  10. 12. Do not think of winning. Think rather, of not losing.

  11. 13. Make adjustments according to your opponent.

  12. 14. The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).

  13. 15. Think of hands and feet as swords.

  14. 16. When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.

  15. 17. Formal stances are for beginners; later one stands naturally.

  16. 18. Perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.

  17. 19. Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.

  18. 20. Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.


What is the Dojo Kun?

Perhaps historically inaccurate, the Dojo Kun is most often attributed to Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate. Most karate-ka (students) are familiar with the Dojo Kun and at least sense its importance because in many schools, as we do at SKA, they recite it at the close of every class giving an ethical framework to each training session. It is a set of 5 short precepts or principles (broadly translated from Japanese) that are intended to encourage and direct both students and instructors inside and outside the dojo. Originally written with a “one” in front of each precept, each idea should be thought of as having equal value. In some schools, they are distilled down to just five words: Character, Sincerity, Effort, Etiquette, Self-control.

Indeed, regardless of who gets credit for first penning the Dojo Kun, it beautifully expresses the essence of Karate-do and invites the student on a journey to continuously pursue a deeper understanding of why they are training and how it should impact their lives in a positive and meaningful way inside and outside of the dojo.

One - To seek perfection of character

One - To be sincere and honest

One - To show strong spirit

One - To respect others

One - To refrain from violent behavior


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