Ilkeston Takushinjuku Shotokan Karate Club
Shotokan Karate History
What is Karate?
Karate-do is an empty handed fighting art that has been developed through long years of history and tradition. Its ultimate goal lies not in winning or losing, but in fostering spiritual and physical strength through serious practice and trying to achieve an overall balance as individuals.
A typical session will include a 10-15 minute warm up and stretching session and then some or all of the following three fundamental elements of Karate training. Strenuous sessions will usually conclude with a warm down.
Kihon (Basic Techniques)
Basic techniques include various different punching, kicking and blocking techniques either performed on their own or in combination.
To begin with all students learn simply sparring techniques within a rigidly structured format gradually becoming more complex and evolving in to freestyle fighting.
Kata are set forms or sequences of anything from 20 to 80 techniques which in some way resemble both a fight against multiple invisible opponents and a graceful dance. For the first few grades students are expected to learn one kata per rank starting with the simplest combination of punching and blocking to complex sequences involving all sorts of punching, kicking, blocking, throwing and grappling techniques.
Gichin Funakoshi was born in 1868 - the year of the Meiji Restoration - in the capital of Okinawa Shuri. A weak child, Funakoshi trained in karate as an exercise to improve his general health and was the only student (at that time) of Yasutsune Azato, a master of the Shorin-Ryu School of Karate. By the time he had reached his 20th birthday Funakoshi had a firm knowledge and experience of the Okinawan karate.
He eventually qualified as a primary school teacher, was elected Chairman of the Okinawan Shubokal and selected to teach karate to the members of the Japanese Navy. In 1917 Funakoshi travelled to Japan and at the Hall of Ancient Virtue in Kyoto and gave the Japanese their first public demonstration of Karate-Jutsu. Four years later in 1921, Crown Prince Hirohito visited Shun and witnessed an impressive demonstration of karate by Funakoshi, who was then 53 years old. Karate was introduced in earnest to Japan in 1922 when, by the invitation of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Funakoshi presented a demonstration at the All Japan Athletics Exhibition in Tokyo. This event stimulated such interest that he was persuaded to stay in Tokyo and give further lectures and demonstrations following which, the popularity of karate spread rapidly. Funakoshi had soon established the art in many universities, military academies and even business organisations. Before long, Funakoshi opened his full time karate Dojo (training hall) which was known as "Shotokan" or "The House of Shoto" - Shoto being Funakoshi's pen name used when he was writing poetry. As the study of Karate in Japan became increasingly popular, many other Martial Arts experts from Okinawa and China came to Japan to give instruction.
In April 1957, Funakoshi died at the age of 88. During the 50 years after Master Funakoshi's death the art of karate spread rapidly from Japan and is now established and accepted worldwide. All manner of people train in karate, all having their own reasons for training, be it the powerful and dynamic training, the physical and mental training, or simply as an extremely effective means of self-defence. Whatever the purpose behind training karate is an empty handed fighting system that requires a healthy body, a sound spirit and a refined character.
"To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill... to subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill"