Gichin Funakoshi, "the father of karate," once said that "the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants."
To support this life-long stance and offer guidance to future practitioners, he penned his now legendary twenty principles. While the principles have circulated for years, a translation of the accompanying commentary has never found its way into publication--until now.
Master Funakoshi's approach stresses spiritual considerations and mental agility over brute strength and technique. Practitioners should not rely on technique alone--striking, kicking, blocking--but must nurture the spiritual aspects of their practice as well. Attend to yourself and the rest will follow, was the message he set for posterity over sixty years ago.
As axioms, Funakoshi's principles are open to various interpretations. "There is no first attack in karate" has occasioned endless discussion about its true meaning. Many of these ambiguities are clarified in the commentary, which is also filled with philosophical musings, fascinating historical episodes, and advice for anyone seeking a better Way.
Translated for the first time into English by John Teramoto, a karate practitioner himself, and accompanied by original calligraphy, this long-awaited treatise is a provocative read and, for martial arts enthusiasts, a long overdue godsend.
Introduction John Teramoto 7
1 Do not forget that karate-do begins and ends with rei 17
2 There is no first strike in karate 21
3 Karate stands on the side of justice 27
4 First know yourself, then know others 31
5 Mentality over technique 35
6 The mind must be set free 41
7 Calamity springs from carelessness 47
8 Karate goes beyond the dojo 51
9 Karate is a lifelong pursuit 55
10 Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty 61
11 Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state 65
12 Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing 69
13 Make adjustments according to your opponent 75
14 The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength) 75
15 Think of the opponent's hands and feet as swords 81
16 When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies 85
17 Kamae (ready stance) is for beginners; later, one stands in shizentai
(natural stance) 91
18 Perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter 101
19 Do not forget the employment or withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique 105
20 Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful in your pursuit of the Way 109
Afterword Jotaro Takagi 116