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Gichin Funakoshi

(1868-1957)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 origins.

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

1. Karate begins and ends with courtesy.

2. There is no first attack in karate.

3. Karate is an assistance to justice.

4. Know yourself before you know others.

5. Spirit before technique.

6. Be ready to free your mind.

7. Accidents come from inattention.

8. Karate training is not only in the dojo.

9. You will never stop learning karate.

10. Make karate part of your life and you will find myo. (i.e. Karate-ize everything.)

11. Karate is like hot water. If not given continual heat, it will go cold.

12. Do not think you must win. Instead, think that you do not have to lose.

13. Adapt yourself subject to your opponent.

14. The fight depends on your handling of your marksmanship.

15. Think that your hands and feet are swords.

16. Be aware of your actions so as not to invite trouble.

17. First master low stances, then natural posture.

18. Practicing kata is no substitute for the real thing.

19. Hard and soft, tension and relaxation, quick and slow, all connected with correct breathing.

20. Think of ways to apply these precepts every day.

 

   

 

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