The Shōtōkan nijū kun (Japanese language: 松濤館二十訓) 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.
Funakoshi trained in Shuri-te and Naha-te from an early age. He ultimately developed his style of karate, 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, and created the nijū kun to assist his karateka in their training.
- Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
Hitotsu, karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto o wasuruna
- There is no first strike in karate.
Hitotsu, karate ni sente nashi
- Karate stands on the side of justice.
Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke
- First know yourself, then know others.
Hitotsu, mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire
- Mentality over technique.
Hitotsu, gijutsu yori shinjitsu
- The heart must be set free.
Hitotsu, kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu
- Calamity springs from carelessness.
Hitotsu, wazawai wa ketai ni seizu
- Karate goes beyond the dojo.
Hitotsu, dojo nomino karate to omou na
- Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
Hitotsu, karate-do no shugyo wa issho de aru
- Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
Hitotsu, ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; soko ni myomi ari
- Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
Hitotsu, karate wa yu no gotoshi taezu netsu o ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru
- Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
Hitotsu, katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo
- Make adjustments according to your opponent.
Hitotsu, tekki ni yotte tenka seyo
- The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
Hitotsu, tatakai wa kyojitsu no soju ikan ni ari
- Think of hands and feet as swords.
Hitotsu, hito no teashi wa ken to omoe
- When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
Hitotsu, danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari
- Formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
Hitotsu, kamae wa shoshinsha ni ato wa shizentai
- Perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
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.
Hitotsu, chikara no kyojakutai no shinshuku waza no kankyu o wasuruna
- Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.
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.