Gichin Funakoshiwas 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.
- Hitotsu! Jinkaku Kansei Ni Tsutomuru Koto!(One! To Strive For The Perfection Of Character!)
- Hitotsu! Makoto No Michi O Mamoru Koto! (One! To Defend The Paths Of Truth!)
- Hitotsu! Doryoku No Seishin O Yashinau Koto! (One! To Foster The Spirit Of Effort!)
- Hitotsu! Reigi O Omonzuru Koto! (One! To Honour The Principles Of Etiquette!)
- Hitotsu! Kekki No Yu O Imashimuru Koto! (One! To Guard Against Impetuous Courage!)
The 20 Precepts
Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with rei
- There is no first strike in karate.
- Karate is an aid to justice.
- First know yourself before attempting to know others.
- Spirit first, technique second.
- Always be ready to release your mind.
- Accidents arise from negligence.
- Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.
- It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.
- Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).
- Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.
- Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.
- Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
- The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.
- Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.
- When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.
- Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.
- Practicing a Kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.
- Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.
- Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.