The word Shotokan is formed with the following kanji:

Shoto, meaning "pine waves", was Funakoshi's pen-name , kan means "house" or "hall"

In honour of their sensei, Funakoshi's students created a sign reading shoto-kan which was placed above the entrance of the hall where Funakoshi taught. Shotokan is considered a "hard" style, characterized by deep low stances and quick, linear, thrusting actions with the aim of executing the maximum amount of power necessary to stop an opponent with one blow.

Early history of Shotokan Karate do

Shotokan KarateShotokan karate-do is a school of traditional karate, founded by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin Funakoshi is widely recognized as having brought karate from Okinawa to mainland Japan.

Modern karate was first demonstrated in Japan in 1922 by Master Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern karate; however the history of karate stretches further back to the Shao Lin monastery in China over a thousand years ago. The monks were taught physical methods to build up their strength, endurance and mental discipline, which play a huge part in their religion. These methodologies were developed and adapted to become what is known today as the Shao Lin Art of Fighting. Two main styles emerged; Shuri-te (Shorin, or Shaolin, in the north of China) and Naha-te (Shorei, in the south of China).

The martial art was taken to the Ryukyu Islands (now known as Okinawa) off the coast of Japan and integrated into their traditional fighting arts, or Okinawa-te. The Lord of Okinawa is thought to have banned the use of weapons in the 15th century, thus giving rise to the development of "empty hand" self-defence techniques. It is said that Gichin Funakoshi merged the Shorin and Shorei styles to form his style of karate which later became known as Shotokan.

In 1922 Funakoshi travelled to mainland Japan to give a demonstration of karate to the All Japan Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo. Shortly after, he was asked to perform again for Jigoro Kano (the founder of Judo) and his instructors, at the Kodokan Judo Hall. This is the point at which karate was introduced to Japan. Funakoshi started teaching a small dining hall in the Meisojuku, but after a couple of years he began to teach at universities and other institutions from which numerous clubs were opened.

During this time concepts such as Budo were introduced to 'Japanise' the art. The meaning of the name Kara-te (from which the modern word karate comes) was also changed from the original meaning "China hand" (because the character for China was "Kara") to "empty hand". The karate being taught by Gichin Funakoshi at this time was different to modern Shotokan, encompassing a large number of throws which were eventually removed from the style. Master Funakoshi's karate continued to develop and in the mid 30s he handed over control of his dojos to his son Yoshitak. Yoshitak made a large number of the changes to the style, which led to the modern style of Shotokan. In 1939 after huge success, a new central dojo was formed known as Shotokan - meaning "the hall of Shoto", Shoto being the pen name Gichin Funakoshi used to sign his poetry. Hence the name Shotokan was brought into use. Unfortunately, during the Second World War, Yoshitak was killed and the Shotokan dojo destroyed. In 1955 the Japan Karate Association was founded with Master Funakoshi as the Chief Instructor and Masatoshi Nakayama on the committee as principal active instructor. Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at age 89, at which point Nakayama took his place as Chief Instructor.

Physical Traning

Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts: kihon (basics), kata (forms or patterns of moves), and kumite (sparring). Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs. Strength and power are often demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. Kumite techniques mirror these stances and movements at a basic level, but progress to being more flexible with greater experience.

Class Outline

Regular training is a must, regardless of style. As any serious martial arts practitioner knows there are no short cuts in mastering techniques. In order to advance, one must train hard, train regularly and above all train correctly. True mastery and understanding of the martial arts is achieved through years of physical, mental and spiritual training under a qualified teacher.

The following is a description of what elements are included in a typical study session. This is by no means a strict agenda and variations may be made at any time. It is only a guide to help you know what to expect.

➣   Dojo Reishiki - Opening Class Etiquette
➣   Zazen - Meditation
➣   Junbi Undo - Preparation exercises
➣   Kihon Waza - Foundational Techniques
➣   Kihon Kata - Basic Forms
➣   Lesson of the Day
➣   Kata
➣   Kumite
➣   Seri Undo - Cool Down Exercises
➣   Zazen Meditation
➣   Mondo/Kogo -Discussion/Lecture
➣   Dojo Reishiki - Closing Class Etiquette