Shotokan Karate

Gichin Funakoshi

  • The Father of Modern Karate

    Gichin Funakoshi is known as The Father of Modern Karate. He was born in 1868 in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture. He was the son of a Samurai who started training in the Martial Arts as a young man to help overcome his frailness.

    He became the Chairman of the Okinawa Shobukai in 1913. Funakoshi was a school teacher and a poet who wrote under the pen name of "Shoto".

    From 1924 until his death in 1957, he travelled around Japan teaching karate at many Universities.

    He wrote several books on Karate including his autobiography, Karate-Do: My Way of Life , which was completed shortly before his death.

 

Masatoshi Nakayama

  • Masatoshi Nakayama was born in 1913 in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

    He is considered one of Master Funakoshi's greatest students.

    Master Nakayama wrote many books on Karate included the Best Karate series.

    He helped to develop the JKA and served as the chief instructor from 1955 until his death in 1987.

Shotokan Tiger

    Gichin Funakoshi’s pen name “Shoto” literally means ‘pine waves’, and today is synonymous with the tiger symbol and Shotokan Karate-do. But few people understand the relationship of Shoto to what is commonly known as the “Shotokan Tiger”. When Gichin Funokoshi was a young man, he enjoyed walking in solitude among the pine trees which surrounded his home town of Shuri. After a hard day of teaching in the local school and several more hours of strenuous karate practice, he would often walk up Mount Torao and meditate among the pine trees. Mount Torao is a very narrow, heavily wooded mountain which, when viewed from a distance, resembles a tiger’s tail. The name “Torao” in fact literally means “tiger’s tail”.

    In later life, Funakoshi explained that the cool breezes which blew among the pines made the trees whisper like waves breaking on the shore. Thus, since he gained his greatest poetic inspirations while walking there, he chose the pen name of Shoto, “pine waves”.

    The tiger which is commonly used as the symbol for Shotokan karate is a traditional Chinese design which implies that “the tiger never sleeps”. Symbolized in the Shotokan tiger, therefore, is the keen alertness of the wakeful tiger and the serenity of the peaceful mind which Gichin Funakoshi experienced while listening to the pine waves on Tiger’s Tail Mountain.