Shotokan Karate (Shōtōkan-ryū) – is Japanese martial arts type and it is considered as one of the most popular modern karate styles in the world.

Shotokan Karate History

Gichin Funakoshi
When you look at life think in terms of karate. But remember that karate is not only karate — it is life – Gichin Funakoshi


Shotokan Karate  was founded by an Okinawan martial artist named Gichin Funakoshi in 1939. Funakoshi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1968, He was talented, passionate and strong-willed martial arts student, who was trained karate by two Okinawan  masters Itosu and Azoto. Later on the Karateka was represented to more and more masters of Okinawan karate systems.

In 1920, Gichin Funakoshi was known as a devoted scholar and the main person who transferred the Okinawan unarmed methods to Japanese mainland.

In 1921, Gichin Funakoshi was noticed by Japanese Prince at the Great Hall of Shuri Castle, where Funakoshi and other masters demonstrated their karate styles. After several performances Prince was so impressed that he invited Funakoshi and other masters to demonstrate their art in Tokyo in front of his own martial arts masters.  Eventually, talented Karateka was noticed and by the founder of Judo – Jigaro Kano, and was requested to show his fighting skills.

More and more people started following Gichin Funakoshi style, which he called Shotokan. As “shoto” – was his pen and “kan” – training hall. In 1939, he opened his first Shotokan karate school in Japan mainland. He believed that he was born to promote and develop his method. Gichin Funakoshi died in 1957.

Shotokan Karate Techniques

Shotokan Karate
The Shotokan establishment uses a tiger as its emblem.

Shotokan karate is based on a deep stance and the ability to generate power from this posture. Shotokan training is normally separated into three categories: kihon, kata and kumite. Kihon is Shotokan karate basics that all students must learn to defend their belt (grade).

Kata – fight against imaginary opponents. This system has a lot of kata, including Taikokyu, Kihon, Heian, Tekki, Bassai, Kanku, Hangetsu, Enpi, Ji’in, Jion, Jitte, Unsu, Meikyo, Sochin, Niju-shiho, Goju-shiho, Chinte, Gankaku, Wankan. Students firs must learn how to apply techniques in kata before they go to next level – Kumite.

Kumite in other words is sparring against real opponent. It’s is low contact sparring system that allows to use kicks and straight punches to the head (jodan) or body (chudan).

Shotokan Karate From My Experience

I had been practicing Shotokan karate for over 10 years. I’m 1st Dan (grade) black belt under Shihan Funakoshi. It was interesting and valuable experience in Karate. I’ve earned a lot of skills, which I’m using at the moment, while I’m competing in MMA tournaments.

What I like the most about Shotokan karate?

Is that speed and foot movement that allows me to reach opponents faster and avoid their attacks. It also improves your reaction, counter attacks and quickness of straight punches and kicks.

What I didn’t like about Shotokan karate?

I didn’t really like that leg kicks is not allowed, that was weirdest thing about it as I started training Shotokan karate, because before I was training Kyokushinkai and Goju-ruy karate, where leg kicks was very important aspect. Also I didn’t like some Shotokan organization rules that made this sport not beautiful, like for example – 2 points system. It makes the fighters feel more tension in the fight, because even on one point could cost victory or defeat. It also makes the fight look boring for spectators, as they can’t see a lot of action during two minutes fight.

Although more points system make this sport much more interesting, as you can see in the video above.

When I got my black belt I decided that it’s time to learn new types of martial arts as I wasn’t really successful in Shotokan karate competition I always wanted to test myself in full contact sports to learn grappling, wrestling and submissions.  At first I fought that I just wasted my time during all these years in Shotokan Karate, but know I understand that I was wrong, it’s actually helping me a lot in my MMA competitions at the moment, I’m still using that Karate movement, that makes my style unique and uncomfortable for my opponents.  And I still looking for better way to adjust Shotokan Karate in MMA, how to improve it and make myself even more elusive in the fight, like that do former UFC champion Lyoto Machida, who is using Shotokan karate as his base.

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