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Japanese Martial Arts Design - There is no first attack in karate

There is no First Attack in Karate
by Eri Takase

Available for personal and commercial use

Shotokan Niju Kun
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

If you are looking for Martial Arts Calligraphy Designs to use in your school newsletter, marketing material or to jazz up your website, then you have come to the right place! These are all hand-brushed designs by Master Japanese Calligrapher Eri Takase. Each is professionally scanned and documented. The designs are delivered digitally when you order so there is no waiting - you can get the perfect design in just seconds.

Personal use designs start at $11.95

Professional use designs at $31.95
Ordering is safe and easy.

All designs come in four formats. For personal use designs we offer an Adobe PDF Format which will print out exactly as designed by Master Takase. These designs cannot be edited but may be used in a single application and are perfect for tattoo designs and craft projects. For commercial use we offer three JPG resolutions: 72 dpi, 300 dpi and 600 dpi. The lower resolutions are suitable for images as part of a website, for example. The higher resolutions are suitable for all print applications.

Each design may also be ordered as hand-brushed art.

We also offer completely custom commercial use designs where you work directly with Eri Takase to create a design to your specifications. For these custom designs we have two options: the first is for Limited Distribution and is non-exclusive and starts at $135, the second is Unlimited Distribution and is exclusive and starts at $350. These are completely custom designs giving you input at every step of the design process.

Finally artwork can be created for any of these designs. These would be hand lettered by Master Takase with her seal and signature - These are truly special gifts of art and are perfect for the home or dojo. These may be ordered as Custom Art or as Custom Japanese Scrolls.

Are you not finding what you want in the catalog? We would love to hear your feedback on ideas to include in the catalog. Please feel free to contact us with your suggestions. You are also welcome to contact us with any questions about any of our Martial Arts Japanese Designs.

So whether you are a graphic artist looking for a specific design to illustrate a book or an individual looking for an authentic and meaningful tattoo, we offer thousands of Martial Arts Kanji Designs. Below we show just a fraction of the designs we have available and hopefully this will inspire you to see our full on-line catalog of designs at Stock Japanese Martial Arts Kanji Designs.

There are many excellent resources including translations of Gichin Funakoshi's original work The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate: The Spiritual Legacy of the Master

Recommended Reading


Shotokan Niju Kun
The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

Martial Arts Design

Martial Arts Design Description


Karate-Do Begins and Ends with Respect
karatedou wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto wo wasaru na

A more accurate translation would be "Never forget that Karate-Do begins and Ends with Respect". The "wasuru na" is "Don't Forget".

There is No First Strike in Karate (karate ni sente nashi)

(click image to see all 12 designs)

There is No First Strike in Karate
karate ni sente nashi

The Japanese phrase karate ni sente nashi means "There is no first attack in karate" or "There is no first strike in karate" and reminds us that karate is for defense only.

This is the second rule in Niju Kun, or twenty rules, established by the founder of Shotokan Karate Gichin Funakoshi. For more information see the excellent article Karate ni Sente Nashi: What the Masters had to Say by Mark J. Tankosich.

Personal Use Starting from $13.95 Commercial Use from $33.95
Custom Artwork from $135 Custom Scroll Starting from $220

Karate Stands on the Side of Justice
karate wa gi no tasuke

Some sites give "tasuke" as 補け which was probably selected for the meaning and not for the reading. This reading is not found in any Japanese dictionary. Other sources use 輔け which one will find in the dictionary (see the link). We also see that others have noticed this issue and side-step it by writing the word in hiragana - which is the approach we have opted to take.


First Know Yourself, Then Know Others
mazu onore wo shire shikashite ta wo shire

For "mazu" Wikipedia gives the archaic "madzu" 先づ. In these designs I have used the modern form 先 ず (mazu). One commonly sees this principle written both ways.

(click image to see all 8 designs)

Spirit Over Technique
gijutsu yori shinjutsu

Some of the earliest translations of this principle includes "Mentality over technique".

技術 gijutsu - technique
より yori - over (more than)
心術 shin jutsu - literally techniques of the heart (mind, soul) *

* Here "shinjutsu" is not a word in Japanese but is a kanji combination created for its meaning. It combines the kanji "shin" meaning "heart; mind; soul" and "jutsu" meaning "art; technique; skill"

There is No First Strike in Karate (karate ni sente nashi)

(click image to see all 6 designs)

The Mind Must be Set Free
kokoro wa hanatan koto wo yosu

The Japanese saying kokoro wa hanatan koto wo yousu (sometimes written kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu) meaning "The mind must be set free" was coined by Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan Karate, and is one of the twenty rules (nijuu kun) which all Shotokan students are encouraged to follow. To do one's best, one must be in the moment. One cannot let the baggage of the past or the worry of the future bind one - to free the mind of such thoughts is to open the mind to the now.

Personal Use Starting from $13.95 Commercial Use from $33.95
Custom Artwork from $135 Custom Scroll Starting from $220
  Calamity Springs from Carelessness
wazawai wa ketai ni seizu
  Karate goes beyond the dojo
doujou nomino karate to omou na

Karate is a Lifelong Pursuit
karate no shuugyou wa issshou de aru

空手  修業 shuugyou 一生 isshou

Notice that 修業 can be read as either "shugyou" or "shuugyou". If read "shugyou" then this is a Buddhist term.

  Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty
ara yuru mono wo karateka seyo sokoni myoumi ari
  Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state
karate wa yu no gotoku taezu netsu wo atae zareba moto no mizuni kaeru
  Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing
katsu kangae wa motsuna makenu kangae wa hitsuyou
  Make Adjustments According to Your Opponent
teki ni yotte tenka seyo
  The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength)
tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari
  Think of Hands and Feet as Swords
hito no te-ashi wa ken to omoe
  When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies
danshi mon wo izureba hyakuman no teki ari
  Kamae is for beginners; later, one stands in shizentai
kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai
  Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique
chikara no kyoujaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu wo wasuru na
Always Be Creative (tsune ni shinen kufuu seyo)

(click to see all 7 designs)

Always be Creative
tsune ni shinen kufuu seyo

The English translation one most commonly sees is "Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way" which is from book The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate: The Spiritual Legacy of the Master. This English translation adds far more meaning than that contained in the Japanese. We have opted for a more direct translation which reads nothing into what the rule intends but rather we simply translates the rule.

常に tsune ni meaning "always, constantly"
思念 shinen meaning "thought"
工夫 kufuu meaning "figuring out, coming up with, solving ingeniously"

Personal Use Starting from $13.95 Commercial Use from $33.95
Custom Artwork from $135 Custom Scroll Starting from $220


Shotokan Dojo Kun
The Five Guiding Principles

Martial Arts Design

Martial Arts Design Description

  Strive for the Perfection of Character
jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
  Defend the Paths of Truth
makoto no michi wo mamoru koto

Defend the Paths of Truth (makoto no michi wo mamoru koto)

  Foster the Spirit of Effort
doryoku no seishin wo mamoru koto

Foster the Spirit of Effort (doryoku no seishin wo mamoru koto)

  Honor the Principles of Etiquette
reigi wo omonzuru koto

Honor the Principles of Etiquette (reigi wo omonzuru koto)

  Guard Against Impetuous Courage
kekki no yu wo imashimuru koto

Guard Against Impetuous Courage (kekki no yu wo imashimuru koto)


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