Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation NZ
“Kara” is the Japanese for empty while “te” means hand and “Do” translates as the way, or path. Karate-Do is “The Way of the Empty Hand”.
Shotokan Karate

Shotokan Karate-Do
Shotokan Karate-Do is a traditional Japanese martial art founded by Gichin Funakoshi after he moved from Okinawa to mainland Japan for the purpose of teaching and spreading Karate-Do practice. The roots of Karate-Do reach as far back as 16th century and beyond. Karate-Do develops and strengthens the character of one’s body, mind and spirit. True practitioners of Karate-Do take the physical skills, discipline and power of concentration and harmony developed at the dojo, and apply them to all aspects of their day-to-day life. In this way Karate-Do is inseparable from everyday life.

Our Dojo welcomes women and men at any fitness level, offering groups for adults and children from beginners to advance level. Classes focus on a holistic approach to fitness, self-awareness and harmony of mind, body and spirit through physical training. DOJO KUN Ethics / Principles of the Dojo (Training Hall) Master Funakoshi Gichin, the founder of the Shotokan school of Karate-Do, wrote the following maxims. The Dojo Kun are not numbered, but all begin with the exclamation word: “Hitotsu”, meaning “One!” to emphasize the equal importance of each precept. Every student is required to study and learn the Dojo Kun.

Dojo Kun

To Strive for Perfection of Character

To Defend the Paths of Truth

To Foster the Spirit of Effort

To Honour the Principles of Etiquette

To Guard Against Impetuous Courage

The 20 Guiding Principles oF Karate (by Gichin Funakoshi)
“These twenty principles were passed down by Master Gichin Funakoshi for the spiritual and mental development of his students. They emphasize his desire to ensure that one not be caught up in the technical aspects of Karate – striking, kicking, blocking – at the expense of the spiritual side of the martial art. It is the focus of the spiritual aspects, master Funakoshi insisted, that turns karate, the mere martial art, into Karate-Do, a Way.” Quoted from the Introduction by John Teramoto in the book: “The 20 Guiding Principles of Karate, The Spiritual Legacy of the Master”, by Gichin Funakoshi

1. Do not Forget that karate-Do begins and ends with courtesy
2. There is no First Strike in Karate
3. Karate stands on the side of justice
4. First know yourself, then know others
5. Mentality over technique
6. The mind must be set free
7. Calamity springs from carelessness
8. Karate goes beyond the dojo
9. Karate is a lifelong pursuit
10. Apply the way of karate to all things. Therein lies its beauty.
11. Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to it’s tepid state
12. Do not think of winning. Think, rather, of not losing
13. Make adjustments according to your opponent
14. The outcome of a battle depends on how one handles emptiness and fullness (weakness and strength)
15. Think of the opponent’s hands and feet as swords
16. When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies
17. Kamae (ready stance) is for beginners; later, one stands in shizentai (natural stance)
18. Perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter
19. Do not forget the employment or withdrawal of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift or leisurely application of technique
20. Be constantly mindful, diligent and resourceful in your pursuit of the Way

Benefits of Karate-Do Practice
• Self Defence The regular practice of Karate-Do enables the student to defend themselves in adversarial conditions, through the application of comprehensive and practical technique and strategy.

• Physical and mental coordination Regular and consistent practice and training will enhance the students’ ability to understand and control one’s own mind and body, whilst at the same time learning to move and think in harmony with oneself.

• Harmony and balance of Mind, Body, Spirit Through karate training you will learn to understand that the human being is a holistic entity. We must learn to balance they way we apply our mind, body and spirit to any endeavour.

• Flexibility, Fitness and Stamina Our comprehensive warm-up and systematic training system will improve your body and mind immeasurably if practiced consistently and regularly.

• Self Development, Self Understanding Through the practice of Karate-Do, you will discover your strengths and weaknesses, and learn how to recognize and improve upon them.

• Respect, Manners and Discipline The basis of true Karate-Do is the understanding of the importance of treating ourselves and each other with good manners and respect of the etiquette applicable in any given environment. This often requires a self-discipline many children are not taught or familiar with in today’s liberal world. Through the practice of discipline, we learn to appreciate good manners, recognize poor manners and understand the value of proper etiquette.

• Experience a different culture Shotokan Karate is originally a Japanese martial art and because our Chief instructor lived in Japan long term, we have the benefit of first hand knowledge of the cultural significance of the practice of martial arts. There are many opportunities to meet and train under highly respected Japanese instructors and to travel to seminars and compete internationally.

• Camaraderie of an international family SKIF has a membership of over 107 countries. Through our affiliation we enjoy the opportunity to practice and compete both nationally and internationally, to attend seminars with instructors from many styles and organizations.

What is Karate-Do?
Oriental fighting arts can be traced back over 2,000 years. The Japanese island of Okinawa came in to contact with many of these combat systems, especially those of China. Some of their features were added to a native Okinawian fighting art. In the 1600’s the Japanese invaded Okinawa and banned the carrying of weapons, and so the warrior-class taught and practiced un-armed self-defence only in secret. More often than not, a teacher would have only one student at a time.

Thus modern Karate is the outcome of centuries of interchange between China, Okinawa and Japan. It only came to be taught openly to the public in the early 1900’s.

“Kara” is the Japanese for empty while “te” means hand and “Do” translates as the way, or path. Karate-Do is “The Way of the Empty Hand”. It is a martial art in which the ultimate purpose is not to seek to win, but to work towards perfection of character, self-control and self-discipline through constant practice. It is a form of self-defence using all parts of the body, which by hard and systematic training become effective and powerful weapons.

What is Shotokan Karate?
Shotokan Karate-Do is one of a few traditional styles with roots in Okinawa, which was developed and refined by the Japanese once introduced to the mainland. It was the first style of Japanese karate to be taught internationally. Many modern styles are watered down karate based upon the Shotokan style.

The founder of Shotokan Karate-Do, Master Gichin Funakoshi from Okinawa, first demonstrated his abilities to the Japanese public in 1922 in Tokyo, upon invitation of the Emperor. Funakoshi established his first Dojo in Japan in 1936. The Japan Karate Association (JKA) was created in 1955 with Funakoshi as the Chief Instructor. The name Shotokan is derived from Funakoshi’s pen-name, Shoto and the Japanese word for hall, kan.

What does “Sensei, Shihan and Kancho” mean?
The Japanese word “Sensei” translates as “teacher” and is used as a title in a like manner to “Professor” or “Dr.” In Japanese form, the teacher is always addressed by their last name – never using the first name. For example, you would never say Gichin Sensei or Hirokazu Kancho. It is always Sensei Funakoshi, or Funakoshi Sensei.

“Kancho” is also a title (not a name!) usually reserved for the head of the organisation. Hence we generally refer to Kancho Kanazawa or Kanazawa Kancho. You would never say Sensei Kanazawa Kancho as this would be like saying “Dr. Mr. Kanazawa”! For instructors of Go-Dan level and above, it is respectful to refer to them as “Shihan” – meaning “Master”, instead of “Sensei”, as 5th-Dan level and above are considered to be Master ranks.

Is Karate Violent?
Karate-Do is a Martial Art. In other words, it is a fighting art! All human beings have the capacity for violence, but through practice of Karate-Do we learn to discipline our mind, body and spirit to harmonise with our environment and those around us. The second of Gichin Funakoshi Sensei’s 20 guiding principles of karate is:

“Karate ni sen-te nashi”: There is no first strike in Karate! Although we can launch an attack, every move begins with a defence. True Karate-Do is based on respect, discipline, relaxation and calm awareness. An aggressive, emotional attitude is contrary to the philosophy and practical nature of the martial art. One of the most commonly quoted maxims of Shotokan Karate-Do is from Master Gichin Funakoshi: “The spirit of Karate is lost without courtesy”.

The only application of physical Karate skills acceptable outside the training hall or competition arena is in defence of life. However the principles and philosophies of Karate-Do can be used in everyday life in an extremely positive and productive manner.

Is Karate an Effective Self-Defence?
Karate is the ultimate in unarmed self-defence. It is designed to disable with one move; it has techniques against all forms of attack and has been developed through centuries of harsh experience. Most importantly, it trains the mental and emotional skills of combat, as well as the physical. Strength and size are not important in Karate - it can be performed well with whatever strength you have, by relying on technique, speed and co-ordination. Karate teaches you how to avoid possible confrontations - it is far better to defuse or to avoid a dangerous situation than to confront it.

What Happens in the Lessons?
Each class is begun formally from a bow as the traditional etiquette is followed. After a group warm-up, the main aspect of the class begins.

Karate practice consists of three aspects: Kata (forms), Kihon (basics) and Kumite (sparring). Kihon involves the systematic training of various blocks, strikes, punches and kicks. Kumite is the application of the techniques learned in Kihon, both as pre-determined sets and as free-flow sparring, depending on the skill level and abilities of the student, and the focus of the particular lesson.

What is Kata?
Kata literally translates as “Forms”. Kata are formal exercises consisting of pre-determined defensive and offensive movements, performed in a sequence. They are performed by oneself against a series of imaginary attacks by several opponents. They are the means by which the fundamental techniques of Karate are transferred to each generation. There are 27 traditional kata in Shotokan - a new kata or series of kata are learnt after each grading.

Who can Take Up Karate?
Karate is for everyone - men, women and children; old or young; fit or unfit. Everyone should know what to do if attacked. Women in the lesson get the same training as the men.

Children can benefit from the discipline, and the skills acquired will improve their self-confidence and character, not to mention co-ordination and concentration. The training is non-competitive, although there is opportunity for competition for those who are interested.

Older people have gained their black belts after 60 and have practised the art into their 80’s. Older students receive the same training as younger people, although naturally the instructor will not demand the same level of endurance. Everyone's training is with oneself - the instructor only expects the best that you can achieve; there is no competition with anyone else in the lesson. You can adjust your training to suit your own stamina and abilities, but the harder you train the more you will benefit.

What Do the Belt Colours Mean?
Beginners wear a white belt. Belt colours represent the skill level of the practitioner based on their ability to meet requirements of the Grading syllabus.

Each Grade is called a Kyu (level) from 10th Kyu up to first, traditional belt colours are White, Yellow, Green, Purple, Brown. Training twice a week adults can grade every 3-4 months and should reach black belt within approximately 4 years. However, in reality, obtaining a black belt is merely the start of one’s training, not the culmination. The first black belt level is called 1st Dan (Shodan) and increases up from there to 7th Dan – the last physically graded level,. From 7th-10th Dan, grading ranks are awarded based not just upon physical and technical ability, but also upon contribution to the art and organisation, respect and seniority, which may take a lifetime to achieve. Very few Martial Arts Masters in any style achieve these highest ranks.

How Good is Karate for Fitness?
Karate is one of the most balanced and complete ways of keeping in good physical condition. Karate incorporates the use of the entire body in which legs, hips, spine, shoulders and arms are coordinated to develop balance, flexibility, poise, speed, strength and stamina. No other form of training uses as many parts of the body to such an extent. Karate practise focuses on developing oneself from within both physically and mentally, it is not seasonal and can be practised anytime, anywhere, as no external tools are required.

Often other forms of training become boring after the first enthusiasm passes and are invariably dropped. However, Karate becomes more interesting and rewarding as you progress, without any limits. Even after decades of training, students will still be learning and improving their techniques – and maintaining a high level of fitness and stamina; this is very rare in any sport.