SHOTOKAN Principal Characteristics


SHOTOKAN Principal Characteristics


Shotokan is one of four major Japanese Karate styles: Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Gojuryu, and Shitoryu. It is one of the largest and most popular martial styles practised worldwide today and the first Japanese karate style to be exported to other parts of the world.

Created by Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern Karate, around 1922 and further developed and modernized by his son Yoshitaka Funakoshi, who is credited for introducing the roundhouse kick (mawashi-geri), this method of martial arts came to be formally known posthumously as Shotokan. In 1936, the Funakoshi father and son opened a new central dojo in Tokyo. The dojo was named Shotokan (the hall of Shoto). Shoto was the pen name used by Funakoshi when signing his poetry. 

 The origins of the Shotokan style of Karate are Okinawan. Gichin Funakoshi was born in 1868 in Okinawa and began to study karate at the age of 11. He studied Okinawa-te or Tode (Chinese Hand), as it was known then, under several great Okinawan masters such as Azato, Itosu and the great “bushi” Matsumura, and he mastered both the Shorin and Shorei styles. Many powerful and majestic Shotokan kata have their roots in the original Okinawa-te or Tode kata.

 Shotokan Karate characteristically employs:

Longer (lower) stances. The centre of gravity is lower than say in Wado Ryu, Goju Ryu., or Shito Ryu
Large majestic movements.
A relatively longer period of high level energy release with full Kime utilisation.
Linear techniques utilising the shortest distance between Tori (attacker) and Uke (defender).
Decisive, powerful and effective penetrative precision techniques

Shotokan karate also relies on the external system of energy control and power (ki) as opposed to the internal system employed by other styles. It is the only style of karate to have two unique stances: kiba-dachi (horse straddle stance) and kokutsu dachi (back stance). With over 600 combinations of combat techniques, Shotokan karate combines power, versatility and artistic beauty.

At the invitation of the Japanese ministry of education, Gichin Funakoshi introduced Karate-Do (way of life) to Japan for the first time in a demonstration at the Butokuden in Kyoto in 1917. Later invited by Dr Jano Kano, the founder of Judo, Funakoshi returned to Japan in 1922 and remained there to teach Karate at the Kodokan Dojo until his death in April 1957.