Funakoshi Gichin


Karate-do Kanji


Shotokan Karate

Shotokan Karate explained

Shotokan Karate was developed by Gichin Funakoshi. Shoto means "pine waves", the movement of pine needles as the wind blows through them and was the pen name of Funakoshi. Kan means "hall" or "house". In honour of Sensei Funakoshi, his students placed a sign reading Shotokan above the entrance of the hall he taught in.

Shotokan is divided into three parts: Kihon (basics), Kata (forms) and Kumite (sparring).



Kihon is the Japanese word for "basics" or the "fundamentals" of Karate. Stances are long and deep, which helps to build strong and powerful legs. It is essential that kihon is practised in order to master proper breathing and body form. The emphasis is on building strong punching, blocking and kicking techniques. While practising kihon it is also important to have good spirit and attitude throughout. A good understanding of Kihon helps with mastering more complex and intricate techniques, which is why it's important to practise often.



Kata is the Japanese for "form". Kata is a pre-arranged pattern of movements that can be practised alone or in groups. Kata is an essential part of training in Karate. Kata consists of a number of blocking, kicking and punching techniques done in various stances while moving in different direction. Kata, like kihon, helps develop strong and powerful techniques.



Kumite is the Japanese word for "sparring". Kumite training is usually practised with a partner, but the techniques can be worked on without a partner initially. It is important to move on to training with a partner so that the skills of judging distance from the opponent and timing of techniques can be perfected.