American Shotokan Karate Federation
American Shotokan
Karate Federation

Philosophy

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants” – Gichin Funakoshi

Dojo Kun

It is traditional for every Dojo to have a set of principals that all students are expected to follow in their practice of karate and in their everyday lives. This Dojo Kun, or school code, is passed from instructor to instructor. There are several translation variations of the Shotokan Dojo Kun. In the ASKF the following is used:

Dojo KunSeek perfection of character!

Dojo Kun

Be Faithful!

Endeavor!

Respect others!

Refrain from violent behavior!

In Japanese it is written as shown in this calligraphy. Japanese is read from right to left, and in this form up to down. The first line on the right says “Dojo Kun”, the rest are the five statements.

Click on the calligraphy to hear Dojo Kun in Japanese by Mr. Hiroyoshi Okazaki.

Niju Ku – Master Funakoshi’s 20 Precepts

Master Funakoshi in the course of his 80 years of practicing karate devised this set of 20 precepts every karateka should learn in order to be successful in the practice of karate-do.

  1. Karate begins and ends with courtesy.
  2. There is no first attack in karate.
  3. Karate is an assistance to justice.
  4. Know yourself first. Then you can know others.
  5. Spirit before technique.
  6. You must release your mind
  7. Misfortune comes out of laziness.
  8. Karate is not just in the dojo.
  9. Karate is lifelong training.
  10. Put Karate into everything you do.
  11. Karate, like hot water, will grow cool without constant heat.
  12. Do not think about winning. Think about not losing.
  13. Victory depends on your ability to tell vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
  14. Move according to your opponent.
  15. Consider your opponent’s hands and legs as you would sharp swords.
  16. When you leave home, think that millions of opponents are waiting for you.
  17. Ready position is for beginners and natural position is for advanced students.
  18. Kata is one thing. Engaging in a real fight is another.
  19. Do not forget strength and weakness of power, expansion and contraction of the body, slowness and speed of techniques.
  20. Be thinking of a strategy at all times.

Master Funakoshi’s 5 rules

In his book, Karate-do, My Way of Life, Master Funakoshi closes with 5 rules he believes all students of karate must follow in the practice of karate-do (actually, he refers to 6 rules, but the 3rd rule is missing for some reason). Every student of karate is encouraged to discuss these rules with their teachers.

  1. “You must be deadly serious in training”.
  2. “Train with both heart and soul without worrying about theory”.
  3. “Avoid self-conceit and dogmatism”.
  4. “Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others”.
  5. “Abide by rules of ethics in your daily life, whether in public or private”.