Central Coast Shotokan Karate Dojo

A Member Dojo of Shotokan Karate of America

What is Shotokan Karate?

Tsutomu Ohshima


Karate is a combination of two Japanese characters: kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus Karate means "empty hand." Adding the suffix "do" (pronounced "doe"), meaning "way," i.e., Karate-do, implies Karate as a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. In traditional Karate-do, we always keep in mind that the true opponent is oneself.

Regardless of your age, sex, or current physical condition, you can begin Karate practice and enjoy it.

Karate is a martial art involving a variety of techniques including: blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, and joint manipulations. Karate practice is divided into three aspects: kihon (basics), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring). Shotokan Karate is a synthesis of Okinawan Karate styles: Shorin and Shorei, or Shokei, schools. The Shorin school is characterized by big, dynamic linear movements, while the Shorei/Shokei school is characterized by compact, powerful movements.

Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi has said that "mind and technique become one in true Karate." By polishing our Karate practice we are polishing our own spirit or our own mentality. Beginners are always welcome in SKA.

Gichin Funakoshi is widely considered the primary "father" of modern karate due to his efforts to introduce the Okinawan art to mainland Japan, from where it spread to the rest of the world. Born in 1868, he began to study karate at the age of 11, and was a student of the two greatest masters of the time, Azato and Itosu. He grew so proficient that he was initiated into all the major styles of karate in Okinawa at the time. For Master Funakoshi, the word karate eventually took on a deeper and broader meaning through the synthesis of these many methods, becoming karate-do, literally the "way of karate," or of the empty hand. Training in karate-do became an education for life itself.

Master Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce karate-do to mainland Japan. In 1916 he gave a demonstration to the Butokuden in Kyoto, Japan, which at that time was the official center of all martial arts. On March 6, 1921, the Crown Prince, who was later to become the Emperor of Japan, visited Okinawa

and Master Funakoshi was asked to demonstrate karate. In the early spring of 1922 Master Funakoshi traveled to Tokyo to present his art at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo organized by the Ministry of Education. He was strongly urged by several eminent groups and individuals to remain in Japan, and indeed he never did return to Okinawa.

Master Funakoshi taught only one method, a total discipline, which represented a synthesis of Okinawan karate styles. This method became known as Shotokan, literally the clan or the house of Shoto, which was the Master's pen name for his poetry, denoting the sound of the wind blowing through pines.