Master Funakoshi Gichin wrote the Niju Kun (Twenty Precepts) to help karate students transform their art into a way of life. Each line contains superficial meaning as well as deeper truth that could take a lifetime to fully understand. The original Japanese text is terse and meant to be thought provoking.

1. 空手道は礼に始まり礼に終る事>を忘るな

Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy

2. 空手に先手なし

There is no first attack in karate

3. 空手は義の補け

Karate is of great assistance to (auxiliary of ) justice

4. 先づ自己を知れ而して他を知れ

Know yourself first, and then others

5. 技術より心術

Spirit first: techniques second


Always be ready to release your mind

7. 禍は懈怠に生ず

Misfortune (accidents) always comes out of idleness (negligence)

8. 道場のみの空手と思ふな

Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo

9. 空手の修業は一生である

It will take your entire life to learn karate: the re is no limit

10. 凡ゆるものを空手化せよ其処に妙味あり

Put your everyday living into karate and you will find the ideal state of existence (myo)

11. 空手は湯の如し絶えず熱度を与えざれば元の水に還る

Karate is like hot water; If you do not give it heat constantly, it will again become cold water

12. 勝つ考えは持つな負けぬ考えは必要

Don’t think you have to win; rather think you don’t have to lose

13. 敵に因って轉化せよ

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

14. 戦は虚実の操縦如何に在り

The battle is according to how you maneuver guarded, unguarded Move according to your opponent

15. 人の手足を剣と思へ

Think of the hands and feet as swords

16. 男子門を出づれば百万の敵あり

When you leave home, think you have numerous opponents waiting for you. It is your behaviour that invites trouble from them

17. 構は初心者に後は自然体

Beginners must master low stance and posture; natural body position for advanced

18. 形は正しく実戦は別物

Practicing a kata is one thing, and engaging in a real fight is another

19. 力の強弱, 体の伸縮, 技の緩急を忘るな

Do not forget: strength and weakness of power; stretching and contraction of body; and slowness and speed of techniques. Apply these correctly

20. 常に思念工夫せよ

Always think and devise ways to live the precepts every day