Shotokan is a traditional Japanese martial art. It is a system of offensive and defensive
techniques utilizing the various parts of the body as weapons and shields. The arms
and legs are used for this purpose. The training is broken up into 3 categories :
- Kihon (training without a partner)
- Kata (it is a set of offensive and defensive movements executed as a set)
- Kumite (Kumite is sparring and there are several levels of difficulty associated with it)
The Birth Place of Karate was the Island of Okinawa which is to be found in the
Ryeukyu Islands Between the northern coast of Japan and the southern coast of China.
Karate emerged after 1372 when relations between China And Okinawa were instituted.
During the 15th & 16th century Karate was driven underground because
of the Islands being run by war Lords who would not tolerate it's teachings and practice.
At this time all weapons were confiscated which achieved two things.
Firstly Karate became a deadly defensive system against an armed or unarmed adversary
and secondly the Okinawan farmers learnt to use blunt farm implements
as deadly weapons. The most common of these were the Bo, Jo, Nunchacku, Tonfa and Sai.
The Founder of Shotokan was master Gichin Funakshi. He was a Teacher, Philosopher and Poet. He would sign his poetry Shoto and it is from this that the word Shotokan arose. The name made
up using Shoto, meaning waving pines because his home was situated on the edge of a pine forest, and the word Kan meaning house or school. Thus Shotokan means the house or school of the
waving pines, but today is interpreted as the school or method of Funakoshi.
In 1936 the first Shotokan was established outside Okinawa in Tokyo which Eventually led to the Japanese Karate Association in 1955 with Funakoshi as Chief Instructor. He remained There
until April of 1957 when he died at the age of 88.
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