Dojo Kun

IMA Shotokan Karate Dojo kun.

Dojo kun is a Japanese Martial Arts term literally meaning training hall rules. They are generally posted at the entrance to the dojo or at the front of the building where training takes place and outlines the behavior expected and disallowed. In some styles of Martial Arts they are recited at the end of a class. The five rules of Shotokan karate Dojo kun are generally accredited to Master Gichen Funakoski 1868 – 1957 but is rumored to have been created by an 18th century Okinawan monk - Kangu Sakukawa 1733 -1815.
The Shotokan Karate Dojo kun serves as a set of five philosophical guiding principles which should be, at least, thought about at each training session. This in turn will help frame the practice for the student within an ethical context of a combat orientated activity. Martial Arts students should not only consider the rules of conduct in the dojo but as a personal guide for everyday life. Everything we learn whilst training in the dojo, we should always try to apply to everyday life.
The Dojo kun was derived from Gichin Funakoshi's “The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate”, or Niju kun, by JKA (Japanese Karate Association) officials. It is now used by many worldwide as a condensed form of Sensei Funakoshi's 20 precepts of training.

1. Seek Perfection of Character

2. Be Faithful

3. Endeavour

4. Respect Others

5. Refrain from Violent Behaviour


Each student/person must try to: strive for the completion and perfection of one's character.

This is the ultimate goal of Karate. The four other principles of the Dojo kun, as well as the entire Niju kun, all tell us what it means to seek perfection of character – but how we can go about pursuing these highest objectives? This is the most important thing. We always try to seek perfection of character from the inside out. It is something we should try to do every moment of every day of our lives.

This means we should never stop learning. Karate training, like life itself is an ongoing process of growth and personal education and development, a process that lasts for a lifetime. It is always good to set goals, but as soon as we accomplish them it is important to set our sights on the next, providing you don’t over reach yourself you will always make improvements. To seek perfection of character is to always look to improve oneself first and endeavour to learn and grow.

Each student/person must try to: be faithful and protect the way of truth.

To be faithful simply put means to be sincere in everything you do. The lesson we are talking about here is simply making a total effort all of the time, continually in whatever it is you do. To be faithful of course means that you have to be true to other people, to your obligations - but it also means you have to be true to yourself and always be able to tell yourself first that you did your best at the time and always look for room for improvement however small it might appear.

When you are faithful and truthful to yourself, others will have faith in you and this should develop a mutual trust between all people. Being faithful and truthful to yourself is essential to realizing the first goal of being the best person you can be at that time. Always assess and re - assess, things change over time.

Each student/person must try to: endeavor and foster the spirit of effort.

A very simple lesson to understand once you understand the simplicity of the lesson! All the important principles of this lesson always come from participation on the mat. You should always try hard at everything you do in or out of the training room no matter what it is you are doing, whether it’s training, working, relationships absolutely anything - give it one hundred percent always. 

Doing anything else but your best at the time is to cheat yourself and others around you. If you don’t endeavour to give your best efforts and learn to understand the rewards that the good old fashioned approach of hard work can bring you are not being faithful to yourself and others around you. Not to think and always try to improve on this principle is not trying to seek perfection of character and sometimes remains one of the toughest lessons for us all.

Each student/ person must try to: respect others and the rules of etiquette. 

A true Martial Artist always shows respect to other people it is something you just do and belongs in all parts of society and we all look forward to the day that it would become an automatic response between people. Showing respect is not a sign of weakness in any way and sometimes can get read or misunderstood by certain people, as such, you should learn to see this.
Simply learning respect whether its giving or receiving is a form of humility and  helps in keeping an open mind and learning to accept people for who they are, which it turn is necessary to learn to personally grow and improve your own sense of respect regarding rules, regulations and people etc
You can always learn something from every person you meet. Maybe every person you encounter is a possible opponent of some kind, and that opponent can pose a threat to you, physical or otherwise. Maybe every person you encounter is a possible wealth of information and you have everything to gain by being there. In either case if you learn to respect everyone in whatever situation, which we all know is difficult and is a battle on its own, you will go on to clearly see things for what they are. Learn to get the most of every experience.

Each student/person must try to: refrain from violent behavior and guard against impetuous courage

This is a reminder to keep calm both on the inside and outwardly by controlling yourself at all times. This comes from within. Conflict within is a form of violence and it can leads to violent actions outwardly which is something you should always try to avoid at all costs. Any student of the Martial Arts should always be in control beginning with an inner calmness with peace of mind.

If you are forced to defend yourself using technique learnt as a last resort, then it is all right to do so only using the reasonable force necessary to suit the individual circumstances but your defence will only be successful when you can maintain a calm and clear mind. Using karate technique to protect yourself or those around you should only be a reaction of last resort. Always try to keep your own self control.

"The ultimate aim of karate lies neither in victory nor defeat,
but in the perfection of the character of its participants"
Gichin Funakoshi Sensei 1868 - 1957