“Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to its tepid state” is the eleventh of the twenty precepts of karate written by Gichin Funakoshi.

The Japanese version of this precept is “一、空手は湯の如し絶えず熱度を与えざれば元の水に還るHitotsu, karate wa yu no gotoshi, taezu netsu o ataezareba moto no mizu ni kaeru“.

With this precept, Gichin Funakoshi encourages us to put consistent effort into our karate training.

Just as boiling water requires heat to maintain its high temperature, karate requires consistent practice to maintain its effectiveness. Only through continuous hard work over many years that we’ll get to see karate’s beauty and its potential to transform our lives.

Karate skills, like all physical and mental abilities, once acquired can’t be stored and must continuously be used and challenged to maintain and improve over time.

If you stop training after getting your black belt or after becoming a decent fighter, your muscle strength will decline gradually and your techniques will eventually become rusted.

Our body is an incredible machine.

If we don’t use certain muscles over a long period of time, the body will perceive that these muscles are not important and they will shrink and weaken over time. The ones that we use consistently on a daily basis will maintain their strength.

Similarly, building those neural connections to make our karate techniques become second nature takes thousands and thousands of repetitions and many years of practice.

But if we don’t practice and don’t use them anymore, our brains see that these neural connections are not important and they will be neglected and ultimately eliminated, giving space for more important things.

This is the same for every other field.

I learned Russian for five years but haven’t used it for the last 15 years and I’ve forgotten almost everything, except a few basic phrases.

I’ve also learned to play the guitar for nearly two years and haven’t picked it up for 13 years and I now can say I pretty much know nothing about guitar playing.

My neighbor was a French teacher. Despite retiring from teaching 20 years ago, she’d have no problem returning to teaching if she has to because she’s been volunteering as a teacher and working as a newsletter editor for a local club all those years.

We all have only so many hours in a day and, naturally, we will forget what we don’t have time for.

My recommendation is if you don’t enjoy karate that much, instead of going to your training on auto mode just because you’ve signed up, give it up and find something else that you enjoy wholeheartedly. Life is short and let’s not bother doing something that we don’t really love.

On the other hand, if you do enjoy karate and want to make it a lifelong study, make it part of your daily routine and practice regularly. We don’t have much time but we can always find time for things that we consider important enough to us in our lives.

And if we pursue karate with unwavering passion, commitment, and intensity and give it our all, karate will transform our lives in ways beyond our imagination.

Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing. That’s the Law of Consistency. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities you receive. If you want to grow, consistency is key.

John Maxwell

All Posts in the Series:

Precept 1: Do Not Forget that Karate-do Begins and Ends with Rei

Precept 2: There Is No First Strike in Karate

Precept 3: Karate Stands on the Side of Justice

Precept 4: First Know Yourself Then Know Others

Precept 5: Mentality Over Technique

Precept 6: The Mind Must Be Set Free

Precept 7: Calamity Springs from Carelessness

Precept 8: Karate Goes Beyond the Dojo

Precept 9: Karate Is a Lifelong Pursuit

Precept 10: Apply the Way of Karate to All Things, Therein Lies Its Beauty

Precept 11: Karate Is Like Boiling Water: Without Heat, It Returns to Its Tepid State

Precept 12: Do Not Think of Winning, Think, Rather, of Not Losing

Precept 13: Make Adjustments According to Your Opponent

Precept 14: The Outcome of a Battle Depends on How One Controls Truth and Fiction

Precept 15: Think of the Opponent’s Hands and Feet as Swords

Precept 16: When You Step Beyond Your Own Gate, You Face a Million Enemies

Precept 17: Kamae Is For Beginners; Later, One Stands In Shizentai

Precept 18 – Perform Kata Exactly; Actual Combat Is Another Matter

Precept 19: Do Not Forget the Employment or Withdrawal of Power, the Extension or Contraction of the Body, the Swift or Leisurely Application of Technique

Precept 20: Be Constantly Mindful, Diligent, and Resourceful in Your Pursuit of the Way


Gichin Funakoshi (1938). The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate