top of page

about Shotokan Karate...

''One whose spirit and mental strength have been strengthened by sparring with a never-say-die attitude should find no challenge too great to handle. One who has undergone long years of physical pain and mental agony to learn one punch, one kick, should be able to face any task, no matter how difficult, and carry it through to the end. A person like this can truly be said to have learned karate.''

These words were said by Gichin Funakoshi, the originator of the Shotokan style of the martial art known as karate. This unarmed method of self-defense, along with its philosophical concepts, has become globally popular since its creation. Funakoshi, a Japanese master of martial arts, created the method in Okinawa in 1868. Funakoshi trained in secret because of the ban on martial arts that existed after the spread of Buddhism.


The philosophy of Shotokan karate is expressed in the Niju Kun, or twenty precepts. Some of these precepts are about karate technique itself, but many are about the spirit, or intent, of karate. For example, an expression of technique would be precept number 15, which states, ''Consider your opponent's legs and arms as you would lethal swords.'' But, precept number 5 says, ''Spirit and mind is more important than technique.'' The precepts do not show an intention of aggression when using the martial art. Instead, precept number two states, ''In karate, never attack first.'' Precept number 12 states, ''Do not think that you have to win; think, rather, that you do not have to lose.'' And, perhaps most important of all, precept number three states, ''One who practices karate must follow the way of justice.'' As Okazaki said, ''A true martial artist constantly strives to be a good human being.''

For more on Shotokan Karate, check out these books:

Historical material is from Book recommendations from

bottom of page