Important Points - Six (five) Rules

To make sure you understand Karate fully, you need to not only practice the Kata but also gain appreciation of the meaning inherent in each of the various kata. This is discussed in a very good book by Gichin Funakoshi - Karate-do Kyohan.

However this is not what I would like to discuss right at this point. I would like to discuss in great detail the 6 (5) important rules in karate. Knowing these 6 (5) rules are absolutely essential to any person that want to understand the nature of this art.

Although Master Funakoshi speaks of 6 rules, the rule numbered 3 is unaccountably missing. So without further ado let’s get into the 6 (5) rules.

1.) You must be deadly serious in training.

When this is said according to Gichin, it is meant that you should be diligent and earnest when it comes to training. Your opponent should always be in your mind no matter what you do. You should also always remember that one blow determines everything and if you make a mistake that you will be the one who falls. So you should always be prepared for such an eventuality.

2.) Train with both heart and soul without worrying about theory.

"Very often a man who lacks that essential quality of deadly seriousness will take refuge in theory." To truly practice Karate it needs to be done with the whole body and not with words. You need to train until you are exhausted and then still continue using the same strict regimen. Gichin also says that what you have learnt through listening to others you will soon forget but what you have learned through training with your whole body, you will remember for ever. Karate consists of many kata, basic skills and techniques that no human can assimilate in a short time. Unless you understand the meaning of each, you will never be able to remember, no matter how long and hard you train. When you master one technique you will see its close relation to other techniques.

4.) Avoid self-conceit and dogmatism.

If you brag and walk down the street as if you owned it, you will never earn respect even though you may be very capable in the martial arts. It is even worse hearing someone brag when they are without capability. In karate it is usually the beginner that can’t resist bragging or showing off. By doing so you dishonour yourself and your chosen art.

5.) Try to see yourself as you truly are and try to adopt what is meritorious in the work of others.

As a karateka you will often see other people training, try to take strong points from them and incorporate it into your own technique. If you see someone train and it is not at top performance, ask yourself if you are training with diligence? Each of us has good and bad qualities, “The wise man seeks to emulate the good he perceives in other and avoid the bad.”

6.) Abide by the rules of ethics in your daily life, whether in public or private.

This is a principle that requires the strictest observance. With martial arts many people will exhibit great progress and in the end turn out to be better than their instructors. Teachers sometimes refer to their students as “pupil”, ‘Follower”, “disciple” or “junior”, by doing so they run the risk of complacency, forgetting that one day their student will not only catch up to him but go beyond him, either in the art of karate or in other fields of Human Endeavour. “I often tell my young colleagues that one can attain perfection in Karate-do until he finally comes to realize that it is, above all else a faith, a way of life.”


When you enter upon an undertaking you pray that you will achieve. You need the help of others to do so, success is not obtained alone. In Karate, by offering help to others and accepting help, you acquire the ability to elevate the art into a faith wherein you perfect both body and soul. This way you come to finally recognise the true meaning of karate.

Karate aims at the perfection of mind as well as body. A Buddhist saint, Nichiren, said: “Everyone who studies the sutras should read them not only with the eyes that are in his head but also with those of his soul.” This is the perfect admonition for a trainee of karate to always keep in mind.

Truer words I haven’t heard or read. If everyone can live by these rules in their respective martial Arts, they will reach perfection not only in their art but also in their everyday life.


Chaleira's picture

As always I enjoy reading your blog posts. Anyway, though this was written by a Karate Master. I think these are great points regardless of style or even martial arts. These are great points that can be taken in daily living as well!
Theev's picture

Tonight I overheard one of the white belts say "I'm really good at reverse kicks!", and proceed to demonstrate some of the worst reverse side kicks I've ever seen. He had the spinning down great, haha, but at his rank he has not even been shown that kick. Rules 4 and 5 in practice, I guess. I always try my best to focus on the first rule here, so I'm glad to see it in print. Every time I perform a kick, strike, block, form, or anything else with less than 100% effort, I am wasting my own time and that of my instructors. Every block should aim to stop a full-force strike from an opponent, and every strike should cause some serious pain to someone in front of me. If I can go through a couple reps of a Pal-Gwe without starting to break a sweat, I know I'm slacking. Without "deadly seriousness", there can't be improvement.
Karate Kitty's picture

Hey, glad you agree on the above. I feel that we should Do whatever we do in life 100%! I take my style and art very seriously and don't care much for people who don't. Especialy when you try and help people and try to let them understand and they still think it's a joke or something they do because they are forced to or trying to prove a point. Just glad to know that on this site we find all who takes pride in their style and love their art very much. Thanks for the comment. Keep well and stay Committed. Peace.