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Rainhill Kase Ha Shotokan Karate Academy

Dojo Kun and Niju Kun

Dojo Kun

Dojo Kun is a Japanese term literally meaning training hall rules. In Shotokan Karate, Dojo Kun serves as a set of five principles, formulated by Master Gichin Funakoshi, as a guide to become the ideal karateka. The purpose of Dojo Kun is to remind students that the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of their karate training, must also extend beyond the dojos. Essentially, in order to obtain the true benefits of Shotokan Karate, each student must take the underlying principals of the art form and make them a part of their daily life. The following Dojo Kun is taken from the The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Master Funakoshi,







The following explanations set out the meaning of the Dojo Kun.

  1. Seek Perfection of Character (Character):
    • This means that the art of karate is more than just physical.
    • All beginners, especially the young, should be taught the importance of character building through discipline and rigorous training.
    • For the beginner, the character building process begins with perfecting techniques through repetition.
    • The spirit to fight will be achieved as one gains more confidence through development of stronger techniques.
    • Train to bring out the spirit, not only to fight but to overcome personal problems especially in times of sickness, domestic crisis or business problems.
    • It is a long path to develop these spiritual values but once the concept is understood and experienced it will provide a lifetime benefit of inner strength and peace.
  2. Be Faithful (Loyalty):
    • To be faithful is a strong samurai tradition and an extension of the Confucius influence on the family and martial arts.
    • The faith to be shown is in your sensei and dojo.
    • The student must always be faithful to his sensei and follow in much the same way as a medieval samurai was bound to follow his feudal lord to the death without hesitation. While this may seem unusual in the present day, it is unreasonable to expect a sensei to teach all he knows to a student who is likely to leave for the slightest reason.
    • The student must prove his loyalty over the years.
    • The faith and loyalty extended to the sensei will be rewarded, in that a greater amount of knowledge and wisdom will be passed on to the student and this bond between sensei and student is extremely valuable and is the basis of the learning relationship.
  3. Endeavour (Effort):
    • To endeavour means complete dedication and commitment necessary to achieve mastery of the art. In no case is mastery possible without strenuous effort and sacrifice on the part of the practitioner.
    • The endeavour must be of a sincere nature and not just superficial.
    • Serious effort on the part of the student will be recognized by the sensei who will in turn spend more time with him or her.
  4. Respect Others (Etiquette):
    • Respect for others is an important part of the Japanese and Okinawan culture therefore common to the martial arts.
    • Gichin Funakoshi stressed that karate begins and ends with etiquette. He also stated that without courtesy there is no dojo. This is a reflection of the formal nature of the Japanese people and may be observed bowing during training as well as at home or office.
    • Dojo etiquette is well defined. You bow correctly and show respect in everything you do and everywhere you go. Respect is extended to all sensei's, parents, educators, law, deceased, nature, etc.
  5. Refrain From Violent Behaviour (Control):
    • A trained fighter is a person with a fierce competitive spirit and great strength so it is unfair to use it against an untrained person.
    • The karateka's spirit is unbeatable and must use his knowledge only for the sake of justice.
    • A person of character can walk away from a fight because he is in control of his emotions and is at peace with himself. He does not have to test his abilities on the street. He wins without fighting and he will have no regrets because no one will be injured.
    • Refraining from violent behaviour is hard to explain to many Westerners because of their environment, or the attitude of winning tournaments, and they want to do it as quickly as possible which is against the principles of karate-do and dojo kun. It is therefore necessary for instructors to constantly remind the students of the importance of the dojo kun.


Traditionally, the Dojo Kun would be displayed at either the entrance of a dedicated Martial Arts Dojo or at the front of the dojo (Shomen). The Dojo Kun would be recited out loud, one line at a time, first by the dojo's sensei or senior sempai, and then repeated by all of the students, prior to the final bows at the end of each class. However, as in our case, because many of today's training halls are community facilities, displaying the Dojo Kun is no longer possible. Similarly, as training halls are hired for specific time slots that can seldom be overrun, to maximise the amount of training time, the Dojo Kun is recited less often.

"Regardless of when you say the dojo kun, or in what language you speak it, say it with pride, and say it like you mean it.

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The Niju Kun

The Niju Kun are Master Gichin Funakoshi's Twenty Precepts, written to help students understand how they should conduct themselves in karate, and in everyday life. The precepts are not numbered or ordered; in Japanese, each precept begins with the word Hitotsu which means "one" or "first". This is to show that each precept has the same level of importance as the others.

Each of the principles is explained in detail in The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Master Gichin Funakoshi.

1. Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with bowing.

1. There is no first strike in karate.

1. Karate is an aid to justice.

1. First know yourself before attempting to know others.

1. Spirit first, technique second.

1. Always be ready to release your mind.

1. Accidents arise from negligence.

1. Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.

1. It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.

1. Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).

1. Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.

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

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

1. The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.

1. Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.

1. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.

1. Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.

1. Practicing a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.

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

1. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.

"Your time on earth is limited, so use it wisely.

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