Shotokan karate is rooted in ancient Okinawan teachings, combined with influences from Chinese martial arts. Funakoshi Gichin Sensei (in Japanese, the surname is given first and the title last, so Mr. Funakoshi is often called "Sensei Gichin Funakoshi" by English speakers) brought these teachings from Okinawa to Japan in the early 20th century, thus becoming the father of modern karate. Training is focused on three main areas:
Learn more about the history of Shotokan kareate here.
The Shotokan Karate Club is dedicated to fostering the principles of the true martial artist spirit to members of the William & Mary community. These principles constitute a "peaceful warrior" who avoids trouble as much as possible, defends himself or others, but never attacks anyone. Karate ni sente nashi is the concept that there is no first attack in karate. It is one of the Niju Kun, or Twenty Precepts, given to us by Funakoshi Sensei.
These principles include the application of martial arts practice to daily life, not just on the dojo floor. An example is the second of the Dojo Kun: Makoto no michi o mamuru, which is loosely translated as "Endeavor!" Anything worth doing is worth doing as well as one can, whether practicing kata on the dojo floor or doing any regular task of daily life.
Karateka avoid violence, negativity and aggressiveness
Traditional karate practice is much safer than commonly thought. Training is conducted under controlled conditions under the watchful eye of a Sensei (teacher) or Sempai (senior student, often an Instructor or Trainee Instructor) with years or decades of experience. Students practice drills and kata appropriate for their experience, indicated by the color of their belts. Contact is not permitted during sparring or drills. All practice is conducted calmly without displays of excitement or aggression. Students learn to separate effort from excitement or anxiety, as these mental states make self defense more difficult and less effective.
Additonal benefits of karate training include greater self-discipline, enhanced focus and efficiency at daily tasks such as studying or work, improved physical fitness, and often a more positive outlook on life! Some, but certainly not all, of these benefits can be derived from any form of exercise. Taking a few hours each week for karate practice can return those hours (and more) to the student in improved focus and concentration in other areas of life.
Nice people practice Shotokan
Traditional karate practice is not aimed at flashy techniques or tournament competition; rather, it focuses on direct and effective techniques of self defense for all. Competition in karate is just another form of training, providing the stress of competition as a proxy for the stress of having to defend oneself in real life. The goal of the tournament is to improve one's karate, not to win a medal or a trophy.
Karate is for everyone, young or old, male or female. No particular athleticism or fitness are needed--they will be improved with practice. Physical challenges are no reason not avoid karate either. Karate practice can be modified to accomodate physical limitations of many types.