Gichin Funakoshi’s Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

This is the first in a series of posts looking at the 20 principles put forward by Gichin Funakoshi for the improvement of his karate students.

Funakoshi believed that Karate should be about developing the character of a practitioner, and not only about developing their  martial prowess. He firmly believed that karate was much more than just a martial art. It was a way to develop spiritual growth through hard training.

The 20 principles were created by Funakoshi  with the intent of being a guide, referred to throughout the lifetime of a student’s training, helping to improve their martial and personal skills.

Since the principles are terse in nature, they are often open to different interpretations. This post is based primarily on the book written by Genwa Nakasone, a contemporary of Funakoshi. This particular interpretation of the principles was read and approved by Funakoshi.

The 20 guiding principles are:

  1. Remember that Karate-Do begins and ends with Rei
  2. There is no first strike in Karate
  3. Karate stands on the side of justice
  4. First know yourself, then know others
  5. Mentality over technique
  6. The mind must be set free
  7. Calamity springs from carelessness
  8. Karate goes beyond the dojo
  9. Karate is a lifelong pursuit
  10. Apply the way of Karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty
  11. Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state
  12. Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing
  13. Make adjustments according to your opponent
  14. The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength)
  15. Think of the opponent’s hands and feet as swords
  16. When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies
  17. Kamae (ready stance) is for beginners; later, one stands in shizentai (natural stance)
  18. Perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter
  19. Do not forget the employment or withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique
  20. Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful in your pursuit of the Way


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    • Fiona Manzone on November 5, 2021 at 10:25 am
    • Reply

    Loved this…..needed it to spread love. Kids in for 10+ years. Which is the name for the concept of good bomerangs? Misplaced the name in the authentic language. I remember Rei. Let me know if you could please. Hope i get the intel xo

    1 mindful love

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