20th November 2017

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Karate (空手?) (English /kəˈrɑːtiː/; Japanese pronunciation: [kaɽate] ( listen); Okinawan pronunciation: IPA: [kaɽati]) is a martial art developed on the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It developed from the indigenous martial arts of Ryukyu Islands (called te (手?), literally “hand”; tii in Okinawan) under the influence of Chinese martial arts, particularly Fujian White Crane.[1][2] Karate is now predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes. Historically and in some modern styles grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital point strikes are also taught.[3] A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家?).

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Shotokai is not an official style of karate. Shotokai is the name of the association launched by Gichin Funakoshi originally in 1930. The original name was Dai Nihon Karate-do Kenkyukai. The association is known in Japan as Dai Nihon Karate-do Shotokai since 1936.[2] Shotokan is the name of its Honbu Dojo (main practicing hall). Gichin Funakoshi’s karate style is also known as Shotokan ryu.

The name derives from Shoto, the pen name which Funakoshi used to sign his poems, literally translated as “pine leaves”. Kai means “group” or ‘method’; therefore, Shotokai is translated as “Shoto’s group” or “Shoto’s method.” Shotokai’s most prominent masters are Gichin Funakoshi with his top students Giko (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi, Genshin (Motonobu) Hironishi, Tadao Okuyama and Shigeru Egami.

At Funakoshi’s death in 1957, his students split into several factions: on one side was a group known as Nihon Karate Kyokai (Japan Karate Association, JKA) and on another side the Shotokai Association. One of the largest issues between them was the question of whether competitions were to be introduced or not.[1]

Although Shotokai is the name of Shotokan Karate association, it has a defined practice method widely known as Shotokai Karate. Shigeru Egami defined the broad outlines of the new way of practising that he developed after having, in a number of tests, discovered the inefficiency of the karate method at that time.

After years of research, Egami found an efficient way of striking by executing the movement in a relaxed state of mind and body. This is the basis of Shotokai. It focuses on suppleness and relaxation, as opposed to tenseness that generates force. Elaborating this basic idea, he suggested new forms of techniques and a new way of practising.

Shotokai refrains from competition because Gichin Funakoshi used to say that there are no contests in Karate. Master Egami wrote: “First of all, we must practise Karate like a combat technique and then, with time and experience, we will be able to understand a certain state of soul and will be able to open ourselves to the horizons of ‘jita-ittai’ (the union of one with the other) which lay beyond fighting. This is the principle of coexistence which enables us to live together in prosperity.”

Shotokai is the keeper of Gichin Funakoshi’s Karate heritage and has for example republished his books during the years. It has also kept the art of Shotokan Karate weaponry (primarily bo/kon in Japanese) in practice schedule.[3]

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