Dōjō kun

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Dōjō kun (道場訓) is a Japanese martial arts term literally meaning "training hall rules."[1][2][3][4] They are generally posted at the entrance to a dōjō or at the "front" of the dōjō (shomen) and outline behaviour expected and disallowed. In some styles of martial arts they are recited at the end of a class.[5]

Shotokan Karate[edit]

Generally credited to Gichin Funakoshi (but rumoured to have been created by Kanga Sakukawa, an 18th-century Okinawan karate proponent) the Shotokan Karate dōjō kun serves as a set of five guiding principles, recited at the end of each training session in most styles, intended to frame the practice within an ethical context.[6]

The five rules are:[7]

一、人格 完成に 努める こと
hitotsu, jinkaku kansei ni tsutomeru koto
jinkaku = personality, kansei = complete (perfect), ni = to, tsutomeru = endeavour
hitotsu, makoto no michi wo mamoru koto
makoto = truth, no = 's, michi = path, wo = with respect to that, mamoru = defend
hitotsu, doryoku no seishin wo yashinau koto
doryoku = effort, no = ’s, seishin = spirit, wo = with respect to that, yashinau = cultivate
hitotsu, reigi wo omonzuru koto
reigi = courtesy, wo = with respect to that, omonzuru = honour
hitotsu, kekki no yū wo imashimuru koto
kekki = vigor (impetuousness), no = of, yu = courage, wo = with respect to that, imashimuru = refrain

The word Hitotsu (一つ) means "one" or "first" and is prepended to each rule to place it at the same level of importance as the others. The word koto (こと) which ends each rule means "thing" and is used as a conjunction between rules. Also, the Japanese no indicates possessiveness and is equivalent to the English 's e.g. doryoku no seishin = effort's spirit = the spirit of effort. wo (and wa) is used to indicate that the preceding element is the subject of the sentence e.g. X wo Y = with respect to X, Y. Finally, the word imashimuru seems archaic, however, it contains the radical 戒 that means admonition and is usually translated as refrain.


Varying translations and interpretations of the dōjō kun exist. Each translation differs in the terms used and the interpretations vary regarding the philosophical depth, meaning, and intention.[citation needed]

The population of English karate practitioners has pushed one form of the translation into being the most widely accepted outside Japan. Generally, the English translation states:

  • Each person must strive for the completion and perfection of one's character
  • Each person must be faithful and protect the way of truth
  • Each person must endeavor (fostering the spirit of effort)
  • Each person must respect others and the rules of etiquette
  • Each person must refrain from hot blooded behavior (guard against impetuous courage)

A more terse translation is used by the ISKF, IKA and JKA:

  • Strive for completion of character (or Seek perfection of character)
  • Be Faithful
  • Endeavor
  • Respect others
  • Refrain from violent behavior

An even more terse translation used in some clubs (often repeated towards the end of class by the students)

  • Character
  • Sincerity
  • Effort
  • Etiquette
  • Self-Control

The dōjō kun also appears in various other martial arts styles, with alterations according to the general precepts of that style.

Goju Ryu[edit]

Depending on your variant of Goju Ryu there are alternative Dōjō Kun.

The leading "Hitotsu" roughly means "number one", or "first" -- meaning that while they are generally used in the order listed, no one item is more important than another. [8]

For the Okinawan Goju Ryu of Eiichi Miyazato or Teruo Chinen, as published on the walls of their dōjō, the Dōjō Kun consists of eight rules and are (in English) as follows:[9]

  • Hitotsu: Be humble and polite.
  • Hitotsu: Train considering your physical strength
  • Hitotsu: Practice earnestly with creativity.
  • Hitotsu: Be calm and swift.
  • Hitotsu: Take care of your health.
  • Hitotsu: Live a plain life.
  • Hitotsu: Do not be too proud or modest.
  • Hitotsu: Continue your training with patience.

The translation above is from Teruo Chinen's dōjō, the Miyazato version is slightly different. [10]

For other variants, including IOGKF, there are six rules and are (in English) as follows:[11]

  • Hitotsu: Respect others.
  • Hitotsu: Be courageous.
  • Hitotsu: Train your mind and body.
  • Hitotsu: Practice daily and protect traditional karate-do.
  • Hitotsu: Strive to reach the essence of Goju Ryu.
  • Hitotsu: Never give up.


The dōjō kun Ryu-te are, in Japanese, the same as those used in Shotokan. The English translation used is as follows:[citation needed]

  • Strive for good moral character.
  • Keep an honest and sincere way.
  • Cultivate perseverance through a will for striving.
  • Develop a respectful attitude.
  • Restrain physical aggression through spiritual attainment.


In Bushido the Dōjō Kun consists of five rules and are (in English) as follows:[citation needed]

  • Loyalty is the essential duty of the soldier.
  • Courage is essential since the trait of the fighting man is his spirit to win.
  • Valor is a trait to be admired and encouraged in the modern warrior.
  • Faithfulness in keeping one's word.
  • Simplicity is a samurai virtue.

Budōkan Karate[edit]

In Budōkan Karate the Dōjō Kun consists of four rules and are (in English) as follows:

  • Show courtesy, respect and honesty towards others.
  • Develop confidence through knowledge, honesty and strength.
  • Never use violence for personal gain.
  • Seek perfection of character.

Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate[edit]

Dōjō Kun from the founder of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karate, Kaiso Dr. Kori Hisataka, are:

  • Maintain propriety, etiquette, dignity and grace
  • Gain self-understanding by tasting the true meaning of combat
  • Search for pure principle of being: truth, justice, beauty
  • Exercise a positive personality, that is to say: confidence, courage and determination
  • Always seek to develop the character further, aiming towards perfection and complete harmony with creation.


Calligraphy of the Nijū kun

The Shotokan Dōjō Kun derived from Gichin Funakoshi's Twenty Guiding Principles of Shotokan, or nijū kun.[12] It is used by many as a condensed form of Sensei Funakoshi's 20 precepts.


  1. ^ Inc, Active Interest Media (1 September 1981). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. Retrieved 13 February 2017 – via Google Books. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ Thompson, Chris (1 January 2008). Black Belt Karate. New Holland Publishers. ISBN 9781847730053. Retrieved 13 February 2017 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Hicks, Terry Allan (1 January 2011). Karate. Marshall Cavendish. ISBN 9780761449348. Retrieved 13 February 2017 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Stilton, Geronimo (1 December 2011). Geronimo Stilton #40: Karate Mouse. Scholastic Inc. ISBN 9780545393553. Retrieved 13 February 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "SHOTOKAN International Shotokan Karate Federation". Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  6. ^ Clayton, Bruce D. (1 January 2004). Shotokan's Secret: The Hidden Truth Behind Karate's Fighting Origins. Black Belt Communications. ISBN 9780897501446. Retrieved 13 February 2017 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ 日本空手松涛連盟(JKS) 道場訓解説 Archived August 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Personal Communication from Teruo Chinen 1995
  9. ^ "Teruo Chinen's Dōjō Kun". Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Jundokan Doju Kun". Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  11. ^ "IOGKF Dojo Kun". Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Philosophy". Retrieved 13 February 2017.

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