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The Way of the Empty Hand. Twenty Precepts.

This article is part of the Twenty Precepts from the Way of the Empty Hand series.

What is the way of the empty hand? Karate-do (空手道, literally ’empty hand way’) is a simple and practical martial philosophy. This martial way seeks gentleness when it can, discipline when it’s required.

Beyond the physical training required, there are many aspects of the martial arts that deserve appreciation. The Twenty Precepts from Gichin Funakoshi are axioms for a thorough contemplation of this way of the empty hand. And, an indication of the deep thoughtfulness of this Okinawan art.

Below is a translation, transcription, and transliteration of the Twenty Precepts. As time goes by, there will be links to other articles exploring these ideas. Enjoy!

File:Karatedo.svg

松濤館二十訓 Shōtōkan nijū kun

First, karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
一、空手道は礼に始まり礼に終る事を忘るな
Hitotsu, karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto o wasuruna

First, there is no first strike in karate.
一、空手に先手なし
Hitotsu, karate ni sente nashi

First, karate stands on the side of justice.
一、空手は義の補け
Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke

First, first know yourself, then know others.
一、先づ自己を知れ而して他を知れ
Hitotsu, mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire

First, mentality over technique.
一、技術より心術
Hitotsu, gijutsu yori shinjitsu

First, the heart must be set free.
一、心は放たん事を要す
Hitotsu, kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu

First, calamity springs from carelessness.
一、禍は懈怠に生ず
Hitotsu, wazawai wa ketai ni seizu

First, karate goes beyond the dojo.
一、道場のみの空手と思ふな
Hitotsu, dojo nomino karate to omou na

First, karate is a lifelong pursuit.
一、空手の修業は一生である
Hitotsu, karate-do no shugyo wa issho de aru

First, apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
一、凡ゆるものを空手化せよ其処に妙味あり
Hitotsu, ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; soko ni myomi ari

First, karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
一、空手は湯の如し絶えず熱度を与えざれば元の水に還る
Hitotsu, karate wa yu no gotoshi taezu netsu o ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru

First, do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
一、勝つ考は持つな負けぬ考は必要
Hitotsu, katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo

First, make adjustments according to your opponent.
一、敵に因って轉化せよ
Hitotsu, tekki ni yotte tenka seyo

First, the outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
一、戦は虚実の操縦如何に在り
Hitotsu, tatakai wa kyojitsu no soju ikan ni ari

First, think of hands and feet as swords.
一、人の手足を剣と思へ
Hitotsu, hito no teashi wa ken to omoe

First, when you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
一、男子門を出づれば百万の敵あり
Hitotsu, danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari

First, formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
一、構は初心者に後は自然体
Hitotsu, kamae wa shoshinsha ni ato wa shizentai

First, perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
一、形は正しく実戦は別物
Hitotsu, kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono

First, do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.
一、力の強弱体の伸縮技の緩急を忘るな
Hitotsu, chikara no kyojakutai no shinshuku waza no kankyu o wasuruna

First, be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.
一、常に思念工夫せよ
Hitotsu, tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo

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