Further information about Kung Fu Haiku and how to use its features.


What is Haiku?

A haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry, typically in three phrases, following three rules:

  • The juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them. The kireji signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.
  • Traditional haiku often consist of 17 syllables (or onji), in three groups of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.
  • A seasonal reference (kigo, the 'season-word').

However, 'good' haiku are said to contain other qualities:

  • Ambiguity between subject and object.
  • Lightness or karumi
  • Candid, genuine emotion, not showy or 'clever'.
  • A delicate, ego-less approach.

A full list of thirteen characteristics was drawn up by English author and Japanese culture vulture, R. H. Blyth. These are:

  • selflessness
  • loneliness
  • grateful acceptance
  • wordlessness
  • non-intellectuality
  • contradictoriness
  • humour
  • freedom
  • non-morality
  • simplicity
  • materiality
  • love
  • courage

You'll find that just about all of these have been abandoned in one way or another on Kung Fu Haiku!

Haiku in English

From the excellent UK website,

"Thus it proves elusive to reach the description of haiku which all those fascinated by the genre can accept without reservation. With this qualification, that in the present time something like the following represents an informed consensus in the West.

The criteria by which we recognise and judge haiku are:-

  • their fidelity to 'haiku spirit'
  • their sense of 'presence'
  • the success with which images are juxtaposed
  • the appropriateness of the subject matter
  • the poetic taste they display, and
  • the poets sense of proportion in choosing the right form.
There is, naturally, interplay between these ingredients, but the evocation of haiku spirit is generally the paramount consideration. For this reason, most dictionary definitions fall far short of the mark, mentioning little more than formal characteristics of haiku that are open to debate."

Concerning Syllables

The 5-7-5 structure should not be observed as a strict rule, lest it become too cramped a cage that compromises the poem's flow. It's the pursuit of essence, efficiency, and the impression of spontaneity that make up the DNA of a haiku or senryū poem, not its syllable count. A haiku should be lean, not nutty slack; the distillation of a complex image, scene or emotion into the smallest possible snapshot that can convey its depth or essence. To this end, a number of haiku poets suggest that a pattern of 4-5-4 is a more accurate representation of the Japanese form.


Another form, Senryū, generally addresses aspects of human nature, often in a satirical or comical manner. In the words of Blythe:

" senryū the world is 'not seen as God made it' but 'as man sees it'; to haiku, sex hardly exists; to senryu, it is all pervading."


A slightly longer format, Tanka ("short poem"), takes the form 5-7-5-7-7, and is one of the major genres of classical Japanese literature.


No! The plural of haiku is not haikus, it's haiku. Like salmon, cod, or trout.

Further Reading

Posting Haiku

Haiku can be posted by anyone - you don't need to log in or become a member. For further information on content and publishing guidelines, please read our terms and conditions.

Author Names

As you may have noticed, part of the fun of posting on Kung Fu Haiku is coming up with witty, relevant, or indeed irreverent, author names. This does not have to be your real name, and in fact we'd recommend that you always use a pseudonym or nom-de-plume when submitting work, for the sake of online safety (and covering your own arse).

Rating Haiku

Haiku can be rated by anyone - you don't need to log in or become a member. If you are a member, you'll get an email if someone upvotes one of your pieces if you've chosen the notification option in your account settings. You can only vote once for any given haiku. You can upvote your own haiku if you really want to.


Books are merely compilations of existing poetry on Kung Fu Haiku. You don't need to ask permission to use haiku in your books, although we do provide the option to include linked author names, both on the haiku's page and at the start of the book.

To add haiku to a book, simply tap the little book icon () next to each haiku on the front page. When you've selected the ones you want, click the 'Create Book' button at the foot of the page and fill out the necessary information.

Each page contains one haiku, and you can have as many pages as you like (a minimum of 4 haiku must be selected). Once your book is created, it will have its own unique web address which you can share with friends, family, and colleagues. For example:


Book Options

The following configuration options are available when creating a book:

  • Upload a custom front cover image
  • Choose from 6 different paper types
  • Choose from 18 different typefaces (fonts)
  • Modify colours
  • Drag 'n' drop page sorting - order your haiku for the best impact, just like tracks on an album
  • Include an optional title page
  • Include an optional index of first lines
  • Choose to include author names

Some folks choose to post the haiku that they wish to include in a book as private works, a members-only feature. There are a number of reasons for doing so:

  • Private haiku do not appear on the website's front page
  • Private haiku cannot be viewed independently (except by the author)
  • It lends more immediacy and uniqueness to the book as the haiku will all be 'fresh'
  • Themed or concept books can be easily created

The Library

Books in the library are compilations of existing work on haiku. You must be a logged-in member to place a book in the library.


At the moment, membership to Kung Fu Haiku is by invitation only. You can request an invitation by sending an email to info[at] and telling us a bit about yourself, or by asking someone who is already a member to send you one.

Membership Benefits

  • Edit your haiku (e.g. to revise or correct spelling mistakes)
  • View all of your haiku and books in one place, along with votes received
  • Post private haiku and books
  • Place your books in the library
  • Change the look and feel of the website (even the weather and time of day!)
  • Receive email notifications when new haiku or books are published
  • Change the voice of the haiku audio narration
  • Chat in realtime with other members
  • Send out invitations to new members
  • Adopt orphaned lines from the Kung Fu Haiku hospital


There is no advertising on Kung Fu Haiku. If you do see adverts, then either your browser has been hijacked or you're using some kind of unscrupulous plugin.


Please read the terms and conditions for all matters regarding copyright and intellectual property.

Other Stuff

Q: Haiku is Japanese, Kung Fu is Chinese - why have you combined them?

A: Nobody's perfect. And it sounded good at the time.

Q: The syllable counter is returning the wrong number.

A: Yes, this happens from time to time. It's pretty tricky (without a dictionary look-up) due to the numerous anomolies in the English language. For the technically curious, I'm using some regex with a growing list of exceptions. There's a great saying: "when a programmer uses regex to solve a problem, he then has two problems".

Q: Who designed the website - it's great/awful?

A: Russell McVeigh (me) designed the website, along with some help from a few friends.

Q: How long has Kung Fu Haiku been running?

A: Since around 2008, so that's roughly 16 years.

Page last updated on 13th April 2023