The Twenty Precepts of Gichin Funakoshi – No. 2

‘ There is no first attack in karate’


This is normally incorrectly taken to mean that in a fight a karate practitioner should not strike first.  Instead he or she should wait until the opponent has struck the opening blow to begin the fight and then react to this using their karate skills for “self defense”.  There is the obvious impracticality with this in that true self defense will not purposely put the defendant at risk by not reacting as soon as a situation occurs.  It is down to the Karate Practitioner’s training and skill to assess a situation and take steps to ensure that the ensuing violence is kept to a minimum to control the situation safely, this may well be to strike the first blow or instigate physical contact/restraint.  The practical martial artist would say that the first strike is metaphorically thrown at the point where your opponent considers the option of violence.

Having said this, I believe that Funakoshi’s second precept means not to start a fight at all (as evading an encounter is preferable), the moral debate above is therefore irrelevant.  Within the ideals of the practice of karate, we should avoid conflict and look to prevent violent situations.  Karate is both the physical practice to gain fitness and ability for where we have no choice and the psychological study to assess situations, opponents and ourselves and the way that we respond to others.

By Karly West

1 Comment

  1. admin 8th January 2013

    Common Law – use of force
    If you have an honestly held belief that you or another are in imminent danger, then you may use such force that is reasonable and necessary to avert that danger. The high ranking judge, Lord Griffith in applying the use of force to the question of self-defence said… “The common law has always recognised as one of these circumstances the right of a person to protect himself from attack and to act in defence of others if necessary to inflict violence on another in so doing. If no more force is used than is reasonable to repel the attack, such force is not unlawful and no crime is committed. Furthermore, a man about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot, circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.”

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