Karate-Do is based on the philosophy of Budo, which is reflected in constant search for personal improvement. The term "Empty Hands" means emptying the mind of all evil desires and vanities.
There are a set of guidelines which every practitioner should follow both in the dojo (training hall) and in everyday life.
These are ethical rules recited at the end of each Shotokan training session. Although believed that the authorship came from Gichin Funakoshi, it is rumoured they have been created by Kanga Sakukawa, an 18th century Okinawan Karate proponent.
Strive for completion of character (or seek for perfection of character)
Hitotsu - jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
Hitotsu - makoto no michi o mamoru koto
Hitotsu - doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto
Hitotsu - reigi o omonzuru koto
Refrain from violent behaviour
Hitotsu - kekki no yu o imashuru koto
They represent the "twenty instructions" of Gichin Funakoshi.
Karate-do begins and ends with bowing.
Hitotsu, karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto o wasaru na
There is no first strike in karate.
Hitotsu, karate ni sente nashi
Karate stands on the side of justice.
Hitotsu, karate wa, gi no tasuke
First know yourself, then know others.
Hitotsu, mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire
Mentality over technique.
Hitotsu, gijitsu yori shinjitsu
The heart must be set free.
Hitotsu, kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu
Calamity springs from carelessness.
Hitotsu, wazawai wa ketai ni seizu
Karate goes beyond the dojo.
Hitotsu, dojo nomino karate to omou na
Karate is a lifelong pursuit.
Hitotsu, karate-do no shugyo wa isssho de aru
Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
Hitotsu, ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; sokoni myomi ari
Karate is like boiling water; without heat, it returns to its tepid state.
Hitotsu, karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru
Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing.
Hitotsu, katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo
Make adjustments according to your opponent.
Hitotsu, tekki ni yotte tenka seyo
The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength).
Hitotsu, tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari
Think of hands and feet as swords.
Hitotsu, hi to no te-ashi wa ken to omoe
When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.
Hitotsu, danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari
Formal stances are for beginners; later, one stands naturally.
Hitotsu, kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai
Perform prescribed sets of techniques exactly; actual combat is another matter.
Hitotsu, kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono
Do not forget the employment of withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique.
Hitotsu, chikara no kyojaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu
Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.
Hitotsu, tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo
Each rule has the same level of importance as the other, so it is not numbered neither ordered.