Nijū kun

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The Shōtōkan nijū kun (Japanese language: ) are the "twenty instructions" of the Okinawan martial arts master Gichin Funakoshi, whose pen name was Shōtō. All students of Shōtōkan karate are encouraged to live, practice, and teach the principles to others. [1]

History[edit]

Funakoshi trained in Shuri-te and Naha-te from an early age. He ultimately developed his own martial art, which he believed leveraged the benefits of these two. Gaining the attention of a larger audience, Funakoshi later ventured to disseminate his art throughout Japan,[2] and created the nijū kun to assist his karateka in their training.

Precepts[edit]

Calligraphy of the Niju kun

While it has been suggested that the Shōtōkan niju kun were documented by around 1890,[1] they were first actually published in a book in 1938 The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate as:[1]


Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
一、空手道は礼に始まり礼に終る事を忘るな
Hitotsu, karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto o wasuru na


There is no first strike in karate.
一、空手に先手なし
Hitotsu, karate ni sente nashi


Karate stands on the side of justice.
一、空手は義の補け
Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke


First know yourself, then know others.
一、先づ自己を知れ而して他を知れ
Hitotsu, mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire


Mentality over technique.
一、技術より心術
Hitotsu, gijitsu yori shinjitsu


The heart must be set free.
一、心は放たん事を要す
Hitotsu, kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu


Calamity springs from carelessness.
一、禍は懈怠に生ず
Hitotsu, wazawai wa ketai ni seizu


Karate goes beyond the dojo.
一、道場のみの空手と思ふな
Hitotsu, dojo nomino karate to omou na


Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
一、空手の修業は一生である
Hitotsu, karate-do no shugyo wa isssho de aru


Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
一、凡ゆるものを空手化せよ其処に妙味あり
Hitotsu, ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; sokoni myomi ari


Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
一、空手は湯の如し絶えず熱度を与えざれば元の水に還る
Hitotsu, karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru


Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
一、勝つ考は持つな負けぬ考は必要
Hitotsu, katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo


Make adjustments according to your opponent.
一、敵に因って轉化せよ
Hitotsu, tekki ni yotte tenka seyo


The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
一、戦は虚実の操縦如何に在り
Hitotsu, tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari


Think of hands and feet as swords.
一、人の手足を剣と思へ
Hitotsu, hi to no te-ashi wa ken to omoe


When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
一、男子門を出づれば百万の敵あり
Hitotsu, danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari


Formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
一、構は初心者に後は自然体
Hitotsu, kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai


Perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
一、形は正しく実戦は別物
Hitotsu, kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono


Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.
一、力の強弱体の伸縮技の緩急を忘るな
Hitotsu, chikara no kyojaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu


Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.
一、常に思念工夫せよ
Hitotsu, tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo



The precepts are not numbered or ordered; each begins with hitotsu meaning "one" or "first" to show that each rule has the same level of importance as the others.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gichin Funakoshi (1938). The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate. ISBN 978-4-7700-2796-2. 
  2. ^ Gichin Funakoshi (1975). Karate-do: My Way of Life. ISBN 0-87011-463-8.