The Niju kun is also referred to as the 20 precepts of Gichin Funakoshi. All students of Shōtōkan karate are encouraged to live, practice, and teach the principles to others. The precepts are not numbered or ordered; each begins with hitotsu meaning “one” or “first” to show that each rule has the same level of importance as the others.
1. Hitotsu, Karate-do wa rei ni hajimari, rei ni owaru koto wo wasuruna.
Karate begins and ends with courtesy.
2. Hitotsu, Karate ni sente nashi.
There is no first attack in karate.
3. Hitotsu, Karate wa gi no tasuke.
Karate is an assistance to justice.
4. Hitotsu, Mazu jiko wo shire, shikoshite tao wo shire.
Know yourself first, before you know others.
5. Hitotsu, Gijutsu yori shinjutsu.
Spirit before technique.
6. Hitotsu, Kokoro wa hanatan koto wo yosu.
Be ready to free your mind.
7. Hitotsu, Wazawai wa getai ni shozu.
Accidents come from laziness.
8. Hitotsu, Dojo nomino karate to omou na.
Karate training goes beyond the dojo.
9. Hitotsu, Karate no shugyo wa issho de aru.
You will never stop learning in karate.
10. Hitotsu, Arai-yuru mono wo karate-ka seyo, soko ni myo-mi ari.
Apply karate to everything. Therein lies it’s beauty.
11. Hitotsu, Karate wa yu no goto shi taezu natsudo wo ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru.
Karate is like boiling water. If not given heat, it will go cold.
12. Hitotsu, Katsu kangae wa motsu na makenu kangae wa hitsuyo.
Do not think of winning. Instead, think that you must never lose.
13. Hitotsu, Tekki ni yotte tenka seyo.
Make adjustments according to your opponent.
14. Hitotsu, Tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari.
The outcome of a fight depends on how you handle weaknesses and strengths.
15. Hitotsu, Hito no te ashi wo ken to omoe.
Think of hands and feet as swords.
16. Hitotsu, Danshi mon wo izureba hyakuman no tekki ari.
When you step outside your own gate, you face a million enemies.
17. Hitotsu, Kamae wa shoshinsha ni ato wa shizentai.
Fixes positions are for beginners: later, one moves naturally.
18. Hitotsu, Kata wa tadashiku jissen wa betsu mono.
Kata is practised perfectly, real fight is another matter.
19. Hitotsu, Chikara no kyojaku, karada no shinshuku, waza no kankyu wo wasaruna.
Hard and soft, tension and relaxation, quick and slow, all connected in the technique.
20. Hitotsu, Tsune ni shinen kufu seyo.
Think of ways to apply these precepts every day.