Gichin Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate – Principles 11 to 15

In this post I will be looking at Principles 11 to 15 of Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles. To view the previous posts in the series, click the links below.

Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate
Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate – Principles 1 to 5
Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate – Principles 6 to 10

Principle 11 – Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state

In this principle Funkaoshi is telling us that if we do not continually practice, we run the risk of loosing any gains we make through our training. There is no secret to improving our karate. If we want to improve we cannot train intermittently. In karate improvement comes through consistent repetition of techniques.

In transferring this principle to other areas of we our life, we can see the beauty of karate. If we want to be good at anything, we need to be fully committed.

Principle 12 – Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing

We live in society where we are obsessed with winning at all costs. Some karateka often mistake winning tournaments as being the sole aim of karate. When we only think of winning tournaments it can dilute our overall karate training. The techniques practiced tend to be the ones that score highly.

In this principle Funakoshi is telling us that rather than being consumed with winning, which could make us act in a rash way, we should rather be confident in our training and concerned with performing our techniques correctly. By doing this we stand a better chance of not being defeated.

Principle 13 – Make adjustments according to your opponent

In this practical principle Funakoshi is teaching us that we need to be adaptable in how we face opponents or situations. It teaches us that we should have an open mind and be willing to make the necessary adjustments based on the opponent or situation.

No two opponents are ever the same, as are no two confrontations. We must never be set in our ways. Our mindset should always be to do what is necessary.

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

To me, this principle is closely related to principle four in that it stresses the importance of knowing our strengths and weaknesses and also that of your opponent.

We have all seen skilled practitioners take an opponents strength and make it into a weakness. This principle is also closely related to principle thirteen. In the heat of battle it is important to be adaptable. This can make the difference between winning and losing.

Principle 15 – Think of the opponent’s hands and feet as swords

In this principle Funakoshi quotes his teacher Yasutsune Azato (1828-1906) who was a skilled swordsman.

This is a practical principle, teaching us the importance of having a good defense. Against a skilled opponent, their hands and feet can be as dangerous as any weapon, as can our hands and feet. So as karateka we must never take our opponents for granted. Also we must also be aware of the potential we can inflict.


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