First Strike

Karate ni sente nashi is a strict prohibition against carelessly using the techniques of karate. A karateka should never act in a manner which would create an atmosphere of trouble, and they should avoid places where trouble is likely to occur.

If a student frequents a bar where fights regularly occur and they are suddenly called upon to use their techniques in self-defence, then they do not understand the meaning of Karate ni sente nashi.

In effect they started the fight because they knew trouble was likely, and they could have avoided the conflict altogether by simply not going there. Karate ni sente nashi is a wish for harmony among people. The karateka who understands this will have a modest heart, a gentle attitude and a wish for harmony.

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From the Gichin Funakoshi wikipedia page:

A memorial to Gichin Funakoshi was erected by the Shotokai at Engaku-ji, a temple in Kamakura, on December 1, 1968. Designed by Kenji Ogata the monument features calligraphy by Funakoshi and Sōgen Asahina (1891–1979), chief priest of the temple which reads Karate ni sente nashi (There is no first attack in karate), the second of Funakoshi’s Twenty Precepts. To the right of Funakoshi’s precept is a copy of the poem he wrote on his way to Japan in 1922.

A second stone features an inscription by Nobuhide Ohama and reads:

Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, of karate-do, was born on June 10, 1870, in Shuri Okinawa. From about eleven years old he began to study to-te jutsu under Azato Anko and Itosu Anko. He practiced diligently and in 1912 became the president of the Okinawan Shobukai. In May of 1922, he relocated to Tokyo and became a professional teacher of karate-do. He devoted his entire life to the development of karate-do. He lived out his eighty-eight years of life and left this world on April 26, 1957. Reinterpreting to-te jutsu, the Sensei promulgated karate-do while not losing its original philosophy. Like bugei (classical martial arts), so too is the pinnacle of karate “mu” (enlightenment): to purify and make one empty through the transformation from “jutsu” to “do”. Through his famous words "空手に先手なし" (karate ni sente nashi) meaning There is no first attack in Karate and 空手は君子の武芸 (karate wa kunshi no bugei) meaning Karate is the martial art of intelligent people, Sensei helped us to better understand the term “jutsu.” In an effort to commemorate his virtue and great contributions to modern karate-do as a pioneer, we, his loyal students, organised the Shotokai and erected this monument at the Enkakuji. “Kenzen ichi” (“The fist and Zen are one”).

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