20 Important Principles of Karate

Karate is a very traditional martial art and today we specifically speak of the principles that define Shotokan Karate. Shotokan karate is imbibed from the teachings and principles laid down by the revolutionary Karate teacher Gichin Funakoshi. Any Karateka or individual practitioner of karate must imbibe these 20 important principles that teach them self-discipline, humbleness and other important qualities. These 20 principles have been derived from the Zen school of teaching and Bushido. While there are many branches of teaching in Karate today we will talk about the 20 most important principles of karate and specifically Shotokan karate.

But before we do that let’s learn about Dojo Kun.


Dojo Kun are a set of 5 simple rules that every practitioner must follow before they in by the 20 principles of character and these rules are


  1. One must seek perfection of character and that includes their lifestyle and their outlook on life.
  2. One must always be faithful to their allies and it is one of the most essential things to keep in mind. 
  3. One must always be of keen mind and be open to new experiences and must endeavour for the truth themselves.
  4. One must always respect others and this goes both ways if they are are wanting to be respected.
  5. One must always refrain from using violence as the only solution and must only use violence as a means of self-defence.


Now having understood the five important rules we can take a look at the 20 important principles that one must follow in Shotokan karate.


  1. There is more than what the dojo implies and one must always use their discretion and their sound reasoning to come to solutions.
  2. One must always bow down at the beginning of training as a sign of respect to their opponent and this brings humbleness in the practitioner
  3. One must never attack at first and without reason.
  4. One must always follow the path of justice.
  5. One must always be prepared to self reflect and understand their selves before trying to understand others.
  6. The mind is of the essence and then comes the body, one must always train their mind before they train their body.
  7. One must always stop overthinking and loosen their mind and that will bring great agility to their movement.
  8. Karate is no place for the lazy person as karate is all about rhythm between the body and the mind and one must be active to reach that.
  9. Karate is not simply a course one can take, it is a lifestyle that one must follow throughout their life to truly master the art.
  10. The principles of character are not only limited to your training but to all the actions that you undertake in your life.
  11. Karate imbibes the qualities of hot water and needs constant heat to stay warm.
  12. Karate is not about winning but about harnessing the ability to not lose.
  13. Winning in Karate is about studying the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents and comparing them.
  14. You must always study your opponent and your movements must be in sync with them to not be defeated. Thus making Karate a dynamic martial art always changes according to the situation.
  15. You must never underestimate your opponent and must always regard them as lethal weapons.
  16. Karate is about staying alert at all times for possible threats.
  17. Karate begins with set positions that are predestined for beginners to follow and slowly transcends towards positions that are natural for the human body for advanced practitioners.
  18. Karate must not be confused with fighting but as a means of self-defence.
  19. Karate is about rhythm and balancing the strengths and weaknesses of the body and breathing accordingly.
  20. Character practitioners must be of sound intelligence and must be ready for to device and adapt at any given time. 


These were the 20 most important principles laid down by Gichin Funakoshi and forms the basis of any successful Karate practice. Karate is much more than fighting and it must embody your lifestyle and that leads to becoming a refined human being. You can understand the principles and interpret them in your way but you certainly need a teacher that can properly instruct you to do karate and there is no better online course than the online martial art class by Martial Art Extreme(MAE) which can help you become professional character practitioner write from your home.