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The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate: The Spiritual Legacy of the Master Hardcover – November 7, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Whether or not you practice the martial arts, they make a great deal of sense, and will take you far, as a philosophy of life." -BookLoons Reviews"While focused on the practice and application of martial arts, this book's "pursuit of the way" has myriad applications for less physical forms of combat, work-related or otherwise" -Publishers Weekly"Filled with philosophical musings, fascinating historical episodes, and advice for anyone seeking a better way." -Rafu Shimpo"The Master insists on a training that involves both mind and body, to create a karate-do, a karate way." -Asian Week

From the Publisher

Gichin Funakoshi, "the father of karate," once said that "the ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants."

To support this life-long stance and offer guidance to future practitioners, he penned his now legendary twenty principles. While the principles have circulated for years, a translation of the accompanying commentary has never found its way into publication--until now.

Master Funakoshi's approach stresses spiritual considerations and mental agility over brute strength and technique. Practitioners should not rely on technique alone--striking, kicking, blocking--but must nurture the spiritual aspects of their practice as well. Attend to yourself and the rest will follow, was the message he set for posterity over sixty years ago.

As axioms, Funakoshi's principles are open to various interpretations. "There is no first attack in karate" has occasioned endless discussion about its true meaning. Many of these ambiguities are clarified in the commentary, which is also filled with philosophical musings, fascinating historical episodes, and advice for anyone seeking a better Way.

Translated for the first time into English by John Teramoto, a karate practitioner himself, and accompanied by original calligraphy, this long-awaited treatise is a provocative read and, for martial arts enthusiasts, a long overdue godsend.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; Bilingual edition (November 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770027966
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770027962
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.6 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #626,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

GICHIN FUNAKOSHI is world famous as one of Karate's great masters. Born in Shuri, Okinawa Prefecture, in 1868, he studied Karate-do from childhood and organized the first public demonstrations. He was trained in the Confucian classics and was a schoolteacher early in life. After training for decades under the foremost masters in Okinawa he was elected president of the Okinawa Association for the Spirit of Martial Arts. He was chosen to demonstrate Karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo in 1922, which led to the introduction of the ancient martial art to the rest of Japan and subsequently to the rest of the world. Among his writings are Karate-do: My Way of Life, Karate-do Kyohan: The Master Text, and Karate Jutsu: The Original Teachings of Gichin Funakoshi. Master Gichin Funakoshi died in April 1957.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
This book is a great read for all students!
Karate Man
Although Master Funakoshi founded Shotokan karate, the principles in this book are universal throughout the world of martial arts.
Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D.
It is packed with wisdom and concisely presented.
David G. Vermillion

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Matt Trainor on April 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Sensei Funakoshi outlines the philosophical benchmarks that exemplify the way a true Do practitioner should live and think. He has provided here an invaluable resource, not only for lessons inside of the dojo- but for outside as well. I must emphasize that books like these, in general, are not only for the instructor Sensei, but should ESPECIALLY be looked at by sometimes confused students (kyu) who need guidance at times with understanding how their dojo training can continue outside of class as well. These lessons are simple in nature, but upon closer review, along with commentaries to go with them, one may find deeper meanings in Funakoshi's few words- making the lessons so easy, yet just that hard as well. Each principle is complimented, again, by insightful commentary, and shown with beautiful calligraphy which in and of itself bring an elegance, style, and simplicity to this beautiful book.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By L. A. Kane TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This elegant book is a great treatise on the spiritual and mental aspects of traditional karate. Funakoshi, founder of the Shotokan School outlines the principles he felt exemplified the true spirit of karate. This is not "how to" book nor is it about technique. It is, however, an insightful easy read. I recommend it for those students who are interested in the deeper meaning of martial arts beyond just the techniques. I only wish it was longer.

Lawrence Kane
Author of Surviving Armed Assaults, The Way of Kata, and Martial Arts Instruction
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Wear Finkle on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Master Funakoshi provides an even greater legacy to our troubled world than that of modern karate. His book, "The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate," is a rich guide to living one's life day-to-day. The applicability is not just to the dojo; but our homes, the corporate world, and every other environment.

Although the serious karateka will treasure this volume; anyone who understands the benefits of mind-body-spirit integration can gain from the lessons. Some may say the book is too short; it is deceptively short and deceivingly simple. It is easy for a reader to "intellectually" connect with a long tome where everything is spelled out. They close the volume and that's that. The challenge is every morning and evening to look oneself directly in the eye and do an honest inventory of how we are living the principles.

As Rule #4 clearly states (echoing one of the most insightful strategies of Sun Tsu); First Know Yourself Then Know Others. In the same way that one can never "master" karate, the wisdom that can be gained from the insights Master Funakoshi offers is directly proportional to the honest introspection of the reader. When many people are so quick to judge and blame others for the quality of their lives, rather than assume responsibility, this book offers simple guidance.

Each time I read it, there is some new insight gleaned; another layer peeled. At times, there is a brief moment of chagrin accompanying the realization of a behavior not in keeping with the principles; but quickly followed by appreciation for the opportunity to change. As with Principle #1; a little more REI (respect) could go a long way in all venues.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andre Messias K. Pedro on July 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a short text that can, in principle, be readed in about 10 minutes. Nevertheless, full comprehention will probably demand new readings and long periods of thinking.

The clarifications on many principles by Nakasone, with the approval of Master Funakoshi, are inspiring, encouraging a closer look on the principles behing the trainning.

Indicated for most martial arts practioners, specially Karate-DO students, but mandatory for martial arts teachers!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Bohdi Sanders, Ph.D. VINE VOICE on October 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book on the real philosophy behind the martial arts. Although Master Funakoshi founded Shotokan karate, the principles in this book are universal throughout the world of martial arts. This should be required reading for every martial artist, and especially those who practice Shotokan karate. I have a lot of respect for Master Funakoshi from studying his life and therefore his writings carry a lot of weight with me. This book, although a short and easy read, is packed full of wisdom and should be a part of every martial artist's home library.

Bohdi Sanders, author of Warrior Wisdom: Ageless Wisdom for the Modern Warrior
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on February 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Very insightful and well written. This book provides the novice martial artist, as well as the more experienced practitioner, a basic, fundamental approach to learning, recognizing, and appreciating the essence and spirituality of karate. It helps the reader understand that practicing martial arts extends beyond the technical aspects of learning the art and focuses on one's development of character, proper attitude, and respect for self, others, and life itself. The book is very enlightening and should be read and practiced by all who study the martial arts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Terry Tozer on July 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Again, every Shotokan Karate-ka (in fact any martial artist) ought to have one of these and read it often to learn the proper meaning of what karate is all about.

It's [karate] not just all kicking, punching, grunting and stuff. Some of the 20 "guiding principles" or "precepts" in the book have actually been acquired from earlier great martial art [Budo] masters (Matsumura e.g.)

That's not to say that Master Funakoshi copied them, and even if he did, it was a very wise decision to have them listed all in one place.

A short book that can easily be devoured in a day, it's full of "worldly" wisdom, no matter what martial art you study. It's best read a few times to digest the intention behind each precept.

Even if you're not martial artist, there are many great principles here that when applied to everyday living will enhance your life and help you to be more successful, kinder and a happier person, regardless of your religion. Each short one sentence precept is then interpreted over the next page or two in simple but meaningful way.

I incorpoarte all of these principles in my lessons (one at a time of course!) and try to have my students learn them & understand their true meaning. I'm certain it goes a long way to improving my students character, especially with junior students.

Again, this is another one of those books, that, if I were able to afford it, I would give my students for FREE when they joined my club.
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