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GICHIN FUNAKOSHI (1868-1957)

Gichin Funakoshi was born in 1868 in Shuri, Okinawa Prefecture. He studied Karate-do from childhood under Masters Azato and Itosu.
He founded the Shotokan Association for the Spirit of Martial Arts. The word Shotokan is derived from "Shoto", which was Master Funakoshi's pen name and means "Waving Pines", and "Kan", meaning "Hall".

 

His influence on Karate was so great that he is credited with changing the meaning of the Chinese characters for "Kara-te" from Chinese Hand to Empty Hand.


The Master died April 26th 1957 in Tokyo, but his karate has gone from strength-to-strength and is now practiced all over the world. Perhaps the Master's greatest legacy is his famous Dojo Kun, which we reproduce below. But do not neglect to consider the 20 Precepts, either. They are of no less value.


There has been a wealth of material written about Master Funakoshi, and this website does not attempt to plagiarize the hard work of others. We recommend you read "Karate-Do - My Way of Life", which is the Master's story in his own words.

The 20 Precepts

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  1. Karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy

  2. There is no first attack in Karate

  3. Karate is an aid to justice

  4. First control yourself before attempting to control others

  5. Spirit first, technique second

  6. Always be ready to release your mind

  7. Accidents arise from negligence

  8. Do not think that Karate training is only in the dojo

  9. It will take your entire life to learn Karate; there is no limit

  10. Put your everyday living into Karate and you will find "Myo" (The subtle secrets)

  11. Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool

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

  13. Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones

  14. The battle is according to how you move guarded and unguarded (Move according to your opponent!)

  15. Think of you hands and feet as swords

  16. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you. It is your behaviour that invites trouble from them

  17. Beginners must master low stance and posture; natural body positions are for the advanced

  18. Practising a Kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another

  19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body and slowness and speed of techniques

  20. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts every day