The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi

Introduction: what follows are the precepts of modern karate as stated by its founder Gichin Funakoshi. The Sensei: karate teacher below gave his kind permission for me to translate the precepts into the Scots leid or language from his book some time ago.

The Twenty Precepts o Gichin Funakoshi * adapted from The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi – And Other Essays on the Philosophy of Karate Do by Vincent A. Cruz (2004) iUniverse, Lincoln,

The Three Speerititual Philisophies thon appear in Zen literature:

  • Gishin Denshin – Frae ma Saul tae Yer Saul
  • Mizu No Kokoro – Mynd Lik Lown Watter
  • Tsuki No Kokoro – Mynd Lik the Muin

The Twinty Precepts o Maister Gichin Funakoshi

1 Karate sterts wi mense an ends wi *mense – *courtesy.

Anely respect unnerstauns aw. It gies insight. Hoo ye treat yersel is hoo ithers will treat you.

2 Thare is nae first attack in karate.

We shuid hiv the understaunin o why thai want tae injure us. Evadin is better – tae be cannie an hiv unerstaunin.

3 Karate is an aid tae juistice.

Parents gie thair bairns tae Tradeetional Karate, first, fer discipline. If a bairn has discipline, he or she cuin concentrate, If he or she is able tae concentrate he or she wull be able tae lairn. If he or she cuin lairn, thai cuin evolve at a higher plane o existence.

4 First control yersel afore attemptin tae control ithers.

Aince a sair mynd is allowed tae rampage, it cannae mak oot atween the righteous an the corrupt. We maist clean oor ain passions afore we cuin help ithers.

5 Speerit first, technique seicont.

If we are wise an yaise intuition , we cuin rely on oor deepest recesses o oor consciousness an saul tae mak the richt decisions.

6 Aye be ready tae release yer mynd.

Tae be ready tae release yer mynd is tae release understaunin an awareness tae the needs o fowk around you: freen or foe, it doesnae matter.

 7 Accidents cum frae negligence.

Hoo mony physical injuries hiv been caused because o negligence? Karate Do practitioners girn thon thai hiv caused thaimsels serious injuries because thai dinna warm up correctly.

In aw oor follies, thare is ayeweys a lesson tae be lairned if we paid mair attention tae oor intuitions an listened tae oor ain God-lik nature.

8 Dinna think karate trainin is anely in the dojo.

In the end a Sensei wull seek oot an motivate thon student wha is wise an understauns the principle o discipline – tae seek oot mair knowledge through the continual practice o his lesson.

Hoo aften di we procrastinate an pit things aff till later, anely tae feel regrettably discouraged fer nae taken care o business at han?

Ane wha kens ithers is wise;

Ane wha kens himsel is wisest.

Ane  wha conquers ithers is strang;

Ane wha conquers himsel is strangist.

Lao Tsu

9 It wull tak yer entire life tae lairn Karate; thare is nae limit.

Hoo sad it is tae keek potential Karate practitioners bein misled by ithers in the so-cawed “modern” martial arts. We are surrooundit by the spectacles on television thon gie a gruesome display similar tae thae gladiators o ancient Rome…

Tradeetional Karate Do is a way o life. It is a lifetime dedication, consecratit tae the perfection o the human character through unlimited physical, mental an speeritual seekin.

10 Pit yer everyday livin intae Karate an you wull find Myo.

The Japanese ideogram defines Myo as used by Funakoshi as feelin gowden an strange, tae hiv outstandin skeel

He believed thon if we are in tune wi the principles o Karate Do in everyday livin, we can achieve union atween baith disciplines. Thon wull encourage us in attainin wa (balance).

11 Karate is lik bilin watter; if you dinna heat it constantly, it wull cool doun.

The saying gangs thon “if one doesnae yaise it, one wull lose it.” It is totally true. Aften, A hiv seen excellent karateka tak a sabbatical fer a mickle months, an whan thae cum back tae training thae hiv a very difficult time adjustin thair techniques.

12 Dinnae think that you hiv tae win; think rather that you dinnae hiv tae lose.

Americans by nature luv a winner. {While in Scotland we lik baith an unnerdog an the victor who has lost than won} We are a competitive society. We luv winners. Hooever, he maun be a judicious, douce winner. The Talmud proclaims, “Wha is the michty? He wha strives tae mak an enemy his freen.”

13 Victory depends on yer ability tae distinguish saft points frae invulnerable anes.

Whan the enemy strikes oot, seek yer weaknesses in yer opponent’s fighting stance (kamae kata). Every attack has its coonter attack

14 The battle is accordin tae hoo you move: guardit an unguardit.

(Move accordin tae yer opponent).

Tradeetional Karate Do yaises combat or fecht situations cawed Ken an Tai. Ken is seizin the initiative or an active condition. Tai is the state o reserve, nae attackin suddenly-waitin fer the enemy’s first strike.

15 Think o yer hauns an feet as swords.

Strike as if you had a sword in yer haun. Meanin: a technique maun be as sherp as a sword. The expression gien by Funakoshi instills a parallel atween karate an the airt o ken (sword) way.

16 Whan ye leave hame, think thon you hiv mony opponents waitin fer you.

(It is yer behaviour thon invites a stramash wi thaim.)

Hoo aften hiv we heard the same auld story? We got in trouble because we were in the wrang place at the wrang time.

17 Beginners maun maister low stance an posture: natural body positions are fer the advanced.

The beginner maun practice an maister aw stances. A pouerful foundation is the base fer guid Karate Do. The implication o this precept is clear…

In the primeval time o oor lives, thae wha luv us continually advise us tae get the maist whan we are young…

A soond base, strang posture wull last a life time. Pouerful roots mak a stable pine tree.

18 Practisin kata is one thing; engagin in a real fecht is anither.

Kata is the formal exericise o Tradeetional Karate Do. In the kata we find the self-defence of Karate D0. Practise kata with the principle o “Shin” (superior consciousness) an one wull be practisin in the speerit o Budo (Bushi-Do – the way of the samurai.)

19 Dinna forget correctly tae apply: strength an weakness o pouer, raxin an contraction o the body, an slowness an speed o techniques.

Waza o hodokoso koki. The psychological timin tae execute a technique is a guid way tae describe thon precept. Tae attack in strength is sumtimes nae cannie because ane has the tendency tae execute one’s best technique. If one’s attack is weak, it may gie the opponent the advantage o thinkin thon he cuin control the situation  because he senses that there is nae kime in the technique.

20 Ayeweys think an devise ways tae live the precepts ivery day.

Agin, we are telt tae stap, listen be silent an hear the vyces o oor ain consciousness. If we are obedient tae the rules o human decorum, live oor lives with righteous dominion, an live it tae the fullest-athoot any reservation, one cuin attain an enlightened saul.

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