Shotokan Karate

Shotokan (松濤館 Shōtōkan) is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing “karate do” through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.

Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, who continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements (in particular the notion that competition is contrary to the essence of karate) led to the creation of different organizations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokai (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single “Shotokan school”, although they all bear Funakoshi’s influence.

As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate do.

Shotokan was the name of the first official dojo built by Gichin Funakoshi, in 1936 at Mejiro, and destroyed in 1945 as a result of an allied bombing. Shoto (松濤 Shōtō), meaning “pine-waves” (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them), was Funakoshi’s pen-name, which he used in his poetic and philosophical writings and messages to his students. The Japanese kan (館 kan) means “house” or “hall”. In honour of their sensei, Funakoshi’s students created a sign reading shōtō-kan, which they placed above the entrance of the hall where Funakoshi taught. Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it karate.

The Original Shoto-Kan

International Karate Daigaku

The Maritime IKD is a member of the International Karate Daigaku.

The International Karate Daigaku was formed in February 2011 after Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai resigned from the International Shotokan Karate Federation. Following his departure from the ISKF in January 2011, dojos across Canada and throughout the Caribbean and South American also resigned. In less than two weeks, the IKD was created.

IKD Grading Syllabus

Every grading in the International Karate Daigaku will follow the standards outlined in this manual.

Requirements for each rank test from 9th Kyu (white belt with a yellow stripe) to Hachidan (8th degree Black Belt) are included in this booklet.

Karate Belt Ranking System

The first martial art to introduce the colored belt ranking system was Judo. Gichin Funakoshi, who borrowed the judo gi for Karate, also adapted the colored belt system for karate.

As students pass through the ranks they will be awarded a different belt color. The colors will differ from style to style and sometimes from dojo to dojo. However, the Kyu (numbered rank) will always start at 10 and ends at 1. Once obtaining a black belt the ranks start over progressing from 1 to 10.

In “the old days” the white belt was simply dyed to a new color. This repeated dying process dictates the type of belt color and the order of the colors!.

Due to the dying process, it is practical to increasingly use darker colors. This began shortly after World War II when Japan was a very poor Nation and dying belts darker was a more economical way to maintain the rank system.

Another explanation for the colored belts, more of a Karate myth than reality, is the notion that the belts simply went from white to black because the original Karate founders never washed their belts. They started off with white belts and after years of training ended up with black belts. However, dirtiest belt will never go black, and although the color change from white to yellow to brown can easily be imagined, other colors like green would be harder to achieve, unless the belt is host to a culture of particularly nasty and colorful bacteria.

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