The Code of Isshinryu

Representing Master Shimabuku’s views on life and the practice of martial arts, the Isshin-ryu Code offers advice about how to get the most from Isshin-ryu…and from life.

An early version of the Isshin-ryu Code (the original version of the code predates Isshin-ryu by centuries) is contained in a book Master Shimabuku is known to have studied called, The Bubishi. Simply, The Bubishi is an ancient manual on the complete art of war. The first version, thought to have originated in China, contained information on naval maneuvers, troop deployment, self defense techniques, medicine, herbs, lethal strikes, government, etc. At some point centuries later, a second, condensed version was in circulation. It is the second version that was thought to be in use in and around the Ryukyu Islands, and the one that Master Shimabuku studied to adapt the Isshin-ryu Code.

A person’s heart is the same as Heaven and Earth
The blood circulating is similar to the Moon and Sun
A manner of drinking and spitting is either hard or soft
A person’s unbalance is the same as weight
The body should be able to change direction at any time
The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself
The eye must see all sides
The ear must listen in all directions

The Isshin-ryu Code in verse (the numbers refer to the appropriate section of the Code)
(1) Be in harmony with all things so that
(2) your movement
(3) can be either blocking (hand) or deflecting (foot)
(4) without your being off balance
(5) so that you can change direction at any time
(6) and strike when the opportunity presents itself
(7) as you look and
(8) listen in all directions.