Newville Scorpions Isshinryu Karate



Isshinryu Code

A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth.

The blood circulating is similar to the Moon and Sun.

The manor of drinking is either hard or soft.

A person’s unbalanced is the same as weight.

The body should be able to change direction at anytime.

The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself.

The eye must see all directions.

The ear must hear all sides.


Here are the eight precepts “rules” of the code of Isshin Ryu.  Each precept expresses a key idea in the study of martial arts.  Each is applicable to real life situations inside and outside of the dojo “training center”.  

Master Tatsuo Shimabuku found these ideas to be critical to Isshinryu karate.

They were passed along to students as key concepts to think upon during their martial art careers.  Each student may come to understand these precepts in different ways, but there are some basic interpretations described below.


  1. A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth: Mankind is just one element of nature, one species that lives in the environment and interacts with everything around him.  A person may interact with nature in a good way or a bad way; the wise person knows that it is better to interact in a good way and therefore be in harmony and at peace with the world.  Master Tutsuo Shimabuku related this story: An old Chinese man was traveling the countryside when a terrible storm broke loose.  Upon seeking shelter in a nearby cave, the man found himself face to face with a tiger that had also taken refuge in the cave from the rain. The old man made no motion towards the tiger, and so the tiger, which bore no malice towards the human, was not threatened by the man’s presence. In this way, the two shared the cave until the storm passed.  They both had a common interest, and therefore the old man and the tiger were in harmony.  If a man’s heart is the same as Heaven and the Earth, he has no need to fight.

  1. The blood circulating is similar to the Moon and Sun:  The Moon and Sun create day and night, light and dark, heat and cold.  It is this alternating process that is necessary for life itself; without these complementary forces, plants wouldn’t grow, animals dependent on plant life wouldn’t grow, seasons wouldn’t change, and energy would stagnate.  Living things must move, grow and change or they will die.  So all things, all life, are constantly in motion.  Like the Moon and Sun, they are constantly in motion across the sky.  The blood moving within our bodies keeps us alive and growing; therefore we are part of nature, similar to the Moon and Sun.

  1. The manor of drinking is either hard or soft:  The principle of yin-yang, or complementary opposites, is prevalent in Eastern thinking.  There is always more than one way to accomplish something.  One can either sip water or one can gulp it quickly.  Both are just different ways of achieving the same results.  In karate, one can meet an attack head-on, force against force, or one can parry or redirect and attack gently, almost effortlessly.  Each has a purpose, and a good student will learn both the hard and soft way to do something or a technique.

  1. A person’s unbalanced is the same as weight:  If you are unbalanced, then it only takes a minimum of effort for an opponent to upset you, and the more unbalanced a person is, the harder they will fall!  This precept is applicable to many situations.  If someone has weak qualifications for their job, then they will be unbalanced.  That is, they will perform their job poorly, and may be upset by a task beyond their capability.  The will fail eventually and thus “fall down” on the job.  The martial arts teach students to be balanced, not only in terms of the physical aspect during training drills, but also in the mental and emotional aspect of life as well.

  1. The body should be able to change direction at any time:  This needs little explanation, from a karate student’s viewpoint; a student must learn to shift their weight, change their stance, and move in any direction needed to avoid a strike from an opponent, or deliver a strike to their opponent themselves.  Similarly, in life one must always be ready to “go with the flow”, to react to any situation they find themselves in at a moment’s notice.  Adaptability in order to handle problems of any nature coming from any direction is a valuable talent for anyone to learn and cultivate.

  1. The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself:  In karate training, this of course means that the time to hit your opponent is the moment when your opponent is most exposed or vulnerable.  It does little good to attack someone with a flurry of techniques, if the target is well protected and easily defending themselves.  It also makes little sense to wait until someone has their hands tightly around your neck before you start to defend yourself from a choking attack!  It is better to choose the most advantageous time to strike or act, and do so with clarity and certainty.  In life, the same rationale holds true: the time to accomplish something is when the best opportunity presents itself to you.

  1. The eye must see all sides:  Literally, a student must know what’s going on around him at all times.  Recognizing a possible danger before it becomes a threat is the best method of defeating that danger.  On a deeper level, students are taught to remain slightly unfocused at all times, using  their peripheral vision, not allowing their attention to become so monopolized by one thing that they are unaware of the other situations happening around them.  From a mental perspective, a person must strive to understand situations from other people’s viewpoints as well.  See the situation the way someone else sees it, and you will understand that person better.

  1. The ear must hear all directions:  Tied directly with precept “rule” seven, this is developing an awareness of sounds all about you, knowing what’s happening outside your visual range.  Your ears may detect things your eyes do not, alerting you to dangers or situations that you might otherwise walk blindly into.  It also means learning to put aside your own opinions and listen objectively to someone else, even if you don’t originally agree with them.  It may be that by listening to their side more closely, you better understand where they’re coming from, and can better see the situation as they see it.



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