Brief History Of Shotokan
Shotokan Karate is generally considered to be one of the
strongest styles of Karate. But to understand the basis of Shotokan,
and to see the rich pedigree of karate, we need to look to its
Shotokan is a modern name given to the style of karate that
developed from the Okinawan systems introduced to Japan in 1922 by
Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate. He was born in 1868,
and began his studies in karate as a child.
Funakoshi first arrived in Japan in 1922, invited by the Japanese
Ministry of Education to attend an athletic exhibition. His
demonstration of karate was a great success.
Though he remained unknown for a few more years, he was befriended
by the founder of Judo, Jigero Kano. Kano's help made a great
impression on Funakoshi, and he never forgot his kindness.
The respect and courtesy he was shown probably influenced his own
teaching methods and philosophy.
Between 1926 and 1930, Funakoshi developed karate further and
consolidated its position in Japan. The universities were the main
sites of karate study. There the physiology and calisthenics of
karate was immensely studied and researched.
During this period Funakoshi and his son Yoshitaka added kumite
(fighting) methods, the Japanese kyu/dan ranking system, and some of
the traditional concepts of budo (martial way) to the system. Under
Yoshitaka, the development of Shotokan karate greatly accelerated.
The stances were studied and strengthened by being made lower so as
to apply a more dynamically controlled stress to the leg muscles,
and the effect of hip rotation on punches and kicks also examined.
As a result, exertion of power in punching and kicking techniques
was greatly increased. This knowledge was incorporated into the
kihon (basics) of Shotokan karate. After 1936, the kata (sequences
movements) were revised to conform to the dynamic new style.
The word 'Shotokan' was chosen by Funakoshi's students to name his
first personal Dojo, and it derives from his pen name, 'Shoto',
meaning 'pine waves', and 'Kan', meaning hall. It soon became the
name for Funakoshi's style of karate.
Yoshitaka Funakoshi died in early 1945. His death is said to have
probably been precipitated by the news that his father's Dojo had
been destroyed in a bombing raid. After the war, Gichin Funakoshi
returned to teaching in Tokyo.
In 1952, at the age of eighty four, he undertook a three-month tour
of American air bases, thus ensuring the spread of Shotokan karate
to America. He died in 1957.
Sensei Funakoshi's Twenty Precepts
Karate begins and ends with courtesy.
There is no first attack in karate.
Karate is an assistance to justice.
Know yourself before you know others.
Spirit before technique.
Be ready to free your mind.
Accidents come from inattention.
Karate training is not only in the dojo.
You will never stop learning karate.
Make karate part of your life and you will find myo. (i.e. Karate-ize
Karate is like hot water. If not given continual heat, it will go
Do not think you must win. Instead, think that you do not have to
Adapt yourself subject to your opponent.
depends on your handling of your marksmanship.
Think that your hands and feet are swords.
Be aware of your actions so as not to invite trouble.
First master low stances, then natural posture.
Practicing kata is no substitute for the real thing.
Hard and soft, tension and relaxation, quick and slow, all connected
with correct breathing.
Think of ways to
apply these precepts every day.