Shotokan karate-dō is the most extensively researched, written-about, and practiced style of Japanese karate in the world. Shotokan takes a balanced approach to striking, using the upper and lower body in equal measure.
Shotokan training strives to unite the mind, body, and technique to produce a single, natural, effortless, spontaneous movement in response to an attack. We believe that there is no advantage in being the first to attack; in training we learn to observe our opponent carefully, detect their attack at its inception, and respond with a precise, instantaneous, and appropriate response.
Shotokan can help people become confident, peaceful, and humble members of society by reducing the fear of helplessness if one is confronted by an aggressor.
Learning Shotokan Karate
There are three related types of training in Shotokan:
Kihon: isolating and studying the fundamental techniques of karate, the building blocks for more complex training. When practicing kihon waza, students are challenged to improve individual elements of karate such as balance, breathing, correct form, focus, speed, and power.
Kata: combinations of kihon waza in structured patterns. In kata, students test their ability to perform kihon waza in sequences that further develop mastery of balance, rhythm, and coordination. Changing tempo, changing direction, examining elements of strategy and tactics, and using different levels of speed, power, and focus are all part of kata practice. At a more advanced level, kata provide a template for many less obvious applications of controlling opponents with grappling, immobilization, and throwing techniques.
Kumite: testing the quality of your techniques in practice with a live partner. In kumite, weaknesses that are not observable in solo practice can be detected, isolated, and corrected. Learning to properly control distance, control timing, control targeting, and control the application of power are all important objectives of kumite practice.
The SKA follows the technical model for Shotokan developed in the 50's, 60's and 70's by the Japan Karate Association (JKA), codified in the published writings of JKA Chief Instructor Masatoshi Nakayama. Each SKA club's syllabus - how they organize a student's progression through the Shotokan curriculum - is unique to the club, based on the needs of the students and the preference of the instructor.
General Comparisons to Other Martial Arts
One the questions we've heard hundreds of times over the years is "what is the best martial art for _____?" Fill in the blank: self-defense, fitness, self control, stress management, competition.
This is like asking "what's the best instrument to play if I want to win the talent show?" Your satisfaction with studying a martial art, like playing an instrument, is a combination of your talent, instructional quality, passion, persistence, practice hours, goals, and interests. If you're well-matched to your instrument and excel at it, you'll do well at the talent show. If your instrument is a poor fit for you personally and you don't put much into it, you're not going to do very well. The same is true with the martial arts. They're all potentially excellent, if they fit your goals, if you put the correct effort into your study, and if you have competent instruction. Our job is to help you explore the Shotokan style of karate to see if it's "the instrument that suits you best" and if our approach to teaching works well for you. If not, there are other styles to explore and we'd be happy to help you find other local clubs to check out.
Shotokan emphasizes explosive “straight line” techniques that are intended to stop an attacker with a single strike. In comparison to most Chinese martial arts like Kung Fu and Tai Chi, Shotokan has fewer large circular movements and uses a more simplified approach to unarmed combat. Most blocks in Shotokan are intended to be full attacks or counter-attacks on the opponent’s arms and legs.
Shotokan is a striking art that uses the hands, fingers, arms, elbows, knees, and feet as weapons. In comparison to Japanese arts like Aikido, Shotokan has significantly fewer grappling, throwing, and passive response/control techniques.
Shotokan karate does not include ground-fighting or grappling techniques as commonly found in arts like Judo or Brazillian Jujutsu. The study of Japanese/Okinawan weapons is not part of the Shotokan curriculum.