|About Shotokan Karate|
By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
The history of the martial arts style of Shotokan karate begins
with Gichin Funakoshi, a man who is given great credit not only for
its birth but also for helping to popularize karate in general.
However, in recent years a UFC fighter by the name of Lyoto Machida
has done quite a bit to bring the art of Shotokan to the forefront
as well. Machida knows how to strike with devastating force before
anyone even realizes he's considering it. This is what Shotokan
karate looks like in battle.
Funakoshi never actually named the fighting style that he refined
from Itosu and Asato's teachings, just preferring to call it karate.
But when he started a dojo in 1936, his pen name of shoto (meaning
pine waves) was used along with the term kan (house) by his students
to erect a sign above the entrance to the establishment that said
Beyond building the foundation of Shotokan, Gichin served as an
ambassador of karate, eventually helping to popularize it through
public demonstrations and by working to bring it to karate clubs and
universities. His development of the philosophical points or
foundations tied to the style called the Twenty Precepts of Karate
or Niju kun is perhaps what he's best known for.
Gishin's third son Yoshitaka later refined the art tremendously.
By changing several aspects (such as lowering stances and adding
more high kicks) Yoshitaka helped to separate Shotokan from the
other Okinawan styles.
Many of the goals of Shotokan can be found in the Twenty Precepts
of Karate. That said, one of these (#12) seems to say a lot: "Do not
think of winning, think of not losing." In fact, it's something that
one could imagine another martial arts master, Helio Gracie, saying.
In "Karate-do: My Way of Life", Gichin Funakoshi also noted that,
"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in
the perfection of the character of the participant."
In combat, Shotokan is a striking style that emphasizes stopping
an opponent with powerful kicks and/or punches quickly and without
Shotokan is a striking style of martial arts that teaches
practitioners through a series of kihon (basics), kata (forms) and
kumite (sparring) how to defend oneself. Shotokan is a hard martial
arts style that emphasizes powerful strikes, long stances, and a lot
of in and out techniques in sparring designed to avoid damage and
end a fight quickly. Higher belts also learn some grappling and
jiu-jitsu style techniques.
Famous Shotokan Practitioners:
- Gichin Funakoshi: Funakoshi was the founder of the Shotokan
- Yoshitaka Funakoshi: The third son of Gichin Funakoshi,
Yoshitaka took his father's art and refined it to make it more
unique. Higher kicks and lower stances were just some of the
things he brought to the table.
- Lyoto Machida: The son of Yoshizo Machida, Lyoto has done a
lot to show the world just how effective Shotokan can be via his
success in the UFC. Machida is known for his ability to strike
before anyone realizes that he is coming. He is a highly
technical stand up fighter.
- Yoshizo Machida: A Shotokan karate master and the father of
UFC fighter Lyoto Machida.
- Wesley Snipes. Among other
martial arts, he is known for Shotokan. He's actually a fifth-degree black
belt in Shotokan. Unlike the heavily commercialized styles that have a
fairly low bar for black belt, getting even a first degree in Shotokan is
very difficult. It's rare than any American reaches a third degree.
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