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Dojo Kun | Understand the Dojo Kun | The Nijukun

  Karate is a Japanese martial art whose physical aspects seek the development of defensive and counterattacking body movements.  The themes of traditional karate training are fighting and self-defense, though its mental and moral aspects target the overall improvement of the individual.  This is facilitated by the discipline and persistent effort required in training.   If karate had to be described in only one sentence, then the most suitable one may arguably be "You never attack first in karate."   This is a a maxim of Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the Okinawan who brought karate to Japan in 1922, and who is accepted as the father of modern karate.   

The word karate is a combination of two kanji (Chinese characters): kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus, karate means "empty hand." Adding the suffix "-dō" (pronounced "daw"), meaning "the way/path," karate-dō, implies karate as a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. In traditional karate-dō, one is supposed to compete and strive to excel against him/herself.

Today there are four main styles of karate in Japan: Shotokan, Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu.  Shotokan, though never described as a style by Gichin Funakoshi, it has been nevertheless considered as his.  Actually  Shotokan  was the name of his dōjo, chosen after the pen name used by Funakoshi to sign poems written in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterized by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.  It is the style taught at the Tulane Karate Club.

Like the word karate, Shotokan is also composed of two different kanji :  Shoto, meaning "pine breeze" and kan, meaning "the place", thus Shotokan means the place of shoto.




"True karate is this: that in daily life one's mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice."

Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi



The Dojo Kun

  • Hitotsu! Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto!

  • Hitotsu! Makoto no michi o mamoru koto!

  • Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto!

  • Hitotsu! Reigi o omonzuru koto!

  • Hitotsu!  Kekki no yu o imashimuru koto!

 (Seek perfection of character!)

 (Be faithful!)           


(Respect others!)

(Refrain from violent  behavior!)



click here to listen to the dojokun recited by Hiroyoshi Okazaki


Understanding the Dojo Kun




The Nijukun (20 precepts) of Gichin Funakoshi

  1. Karate is not only dojo training.
  2. In Karate, never attack first.
  3. Don't forget that Karate begins with a bow and ends with a bow.
  4. One who practices Karate must follow the way of justice.
  5. First you must know yourself. Then you can know others.
  6. Spiritual development is paramount; technical skills are merely means to the end.
  7. You must release your mind.
  8. Misfortune comes out of laziness.
  9. Karate is a lifelong training.
  10. Put Karate into everything you do.
  11. Karate is like hot water. If you do not give heat constantly it will again become cold.
  12. Do not think you have to win. Think that you do not have to lose.
  13. Victory depends on your ability to tell vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
  14. Move according to your opponent.
  15. Consider your opponent's hands and legs as you would sharp swords.
  16. When you leave home, think that millions of opponents are waiting for you.
  17. Ready position for beginners and natural position for advanced students.
  18. Kata is one thing. Engaging in a real fight is another.
  19. Do not forget (1)strength and weakness of power, (2)expansion and contraction of the body, (3)slowness and speed of techniques. [Click here for Master Teruyuki Okazaki's analysis of this precept]
  20. Devise at all times.  [Click here for Master Teruyuki Okazaki's analysis of this precept]


          The Nijukun in Japanese