Shotokan Karate is one of the many styles derived from the Okinawan Martial Art of Empty (Kara) Hand (Te), first made popular in mainland Japan by Gichin Funakoshi Sensei from the 1920's.

Along with teaching the techniques involved with karate, Funakoshi Sensei also joined his teachings with strict discipline and a philosophy, also known as Bu-do (The Way) to create Karate-do. Karate-do is the way of life the Karate-ka (a practitioner of Karate) strives to achieve, not only when in the dojo, but everyday. The principles and technicalities of Karate-do have been modified over the years, most notably by Funakoshi Gigo Sensei and Nakayama Masatoshi Sensei in Shotokan, the latter who is the author of the seminal Dynamic Karate.

Funakoshi Sensei's legacy is not only bringing karate from Okinawa to Japan and the world but creating Karate-do. The most prominent example of this is the 'Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate', which includes the most rigid (and most talked about precept) 'There is no First Strike in Karate'. Below is the list of the twenty precepts described in Funakoshi Sensei's book:

 

  1. Never forget: karate begins with rei and ends with rei (Rei means courtesy or respect, and is represented in karate by bowing)

  2. There is no first attack in karate

  3. Karate supports righteousness

  4. First understand yourself, then understand others

  5. The art of developing the mind is more important than the art of applying technique

  6. The mind needs to be freed

  7. Trouble is born of negligence / ignorance

  8. Do not think karate belongs only in the dojo

  9. Karate training requires a lifetime

  10. Transform everything into karate; therein lies its exquisiteness

  11. Karate is like hot water, if you do not give it heat constantly, it will again become cold water

  12. Do not think that you have to win, rather think you do not have to lose

  13. Transform yourself according to the opponent

  14. The outcome of the fight depends on one's control

  15. Imagine one's arms and legs as swords

  16. Once you leave the shelter of home, there are a million enemies

  17. Postures are for the beginner; later they are natural positions

  18. Perform the kata correctly; the real fight is a different matter

  19. Do not forget control of the dynamics of power, the elasticity of the body and the speed of the technique

  20. Apply the way of Karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.

Shotokan Karate

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