Shotokan Karate is a Japanese martial art
which, like all traditional karate styles, has developed from
the original Okinawan martial form of "te". Karate was introduced
to Japan from Okinawa in the 1920's and has evolved into the styles
we have today. Master Gichin Funakoshi who was among the first
of the Okinawan karate masters to take up residence in mainland
Japan for the purpose of spreading the art. Master Funakoshis
style later became known as Shotokan karate.
Shotokan karate is characterised by deep stances
and long, linear attacks. It places great emphasis on dynamic
body movement to generate powerful, fast attacks and blocks. Training
is broken down into three elements, Kihon (basic exercises), Kata
(forms) and Kumite (sparring). Beginners are taught how to move
in stance while simultaneously performing kicks, strikes and blocks.
Great emphasis is placed on kata which forms
a central part of the training. Kata training teaches form, movement
and power. It also enables participants to learn and practise
the range of techniques contained in the Shotokan system. There
are more than 20 kata in Shotokan karate and although none are "easy" to
perform some are more complex than others and require a deeper
understanding of the art in order to perform them competently.
Kata is regarded as the soul of Shotokan.
Kumite training forms the other vital element of Shotokan training.
Kumite takes two forms:
a) Basic sparring when the attack is announced
to the defender before it is performed. There are several types
of basic sparring.
b) Free-sparring where participants freely exchange
attacks and counters.
Shotokan karate is suitable for both sexes and can
be practised by young and old alike. It is an exciting, structured
method of physical training and a highly effective self-defence