Master Gichin Funakoshi
"The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of
the character of the participants


Brief History of Shotokan Karate

Shotokan Karate-Do, the Way of the Empty Hand, is a style of karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi in the early part of the 20th century. The Art is a combination of older open-hand fighting techniques from Okinawa. Master Funakoshi combined the best elements of these techniques and included additional training methods that emphasized the balance of kata (forms or patterns of moves), kihon (basics) and kumite (sparring).

Techniques in kihon and kata are characterized by deep, long stances that provide stability, enable powerful movements, and strengthen the legs. Shotokan is often regarded as a 'hard' and 'external' martial art because it is taught that way to beginners and colored belts to develop strong basic techniques and stances. Initially strength and power are demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. Those who progress to brown and black belt level develop a much more fluid style that incorporates grappling and some aikido-like techniques, which can be found in the black belt katas. Kumite techniques mirror these stances and movements at a basic level, but are less structured, with a focus instead on speed and efficiency.


Character development is an integral part of the study of Shotokan Karate. Gichin Funakoshi laid out the Twenty Precepts of Karate, which form the foundations of the art. Within these twenty principles, based heavily on Bushido and Zen, lies the philosophy of Shotokan. The principles allude to notions of humility, respect, compassion, patience, and both an inward and outward calmness. It was Funakoshi's belief that through karate practice and observation of these 20 principles, the karateka would improve their person.

The Dojo Kun represents the underlying principals of Master Funakoshi's philosophy for training in the dojo. It is usually posted on a wall in the dojo, and some shotokan clubs recite the Dojo kun at the beginning and/or end of each class to provide motivation and a context for further training.

Twenty Precepts

1. Karate-do begins with courtesy and ends with rei.
2. There is no first strike in karate.
3. Karate is an aid to justice.
4. First know yourself before attempting to know others.
5. Spirit first, technique second.
6. Always be ready to release your mind.
7. Accidents arise from negligence.
8. Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.
9. It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit.
10. Put your everyday living into karate and you will find "Myo" (subtle secrets).
11. Karate is like boiling water, if you do not heat it constantly, it will cool.
12. Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.
13. Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from invulnerable ones.
14. The out come of the battle depends on how you handle weakness and strength.
15. Think of your opponents hands and feet as swords.
16. When you leave home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you.
17. Beginners must master low stance and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced.
18. Practicing a kata exactly is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.
19. Do not forget to correctly apply: strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body, and slowness and speed of techniques.
20. Always think and devise ways to live the precepts of karate-do every day.


The Dojo Kun represents the underlying principals of Master Funakoshi's philosophy:

Seek Perfection of Character.
Hitotsu! Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto.

Be Faithful.
Hitotsu! Makato no michi o mamoru koto.

Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto.

Respect others.
Hitotsu! Reigi o omonsuru koto.

Refrain from violent behavior.
Hitotsu! Kekki no yu o imashimuru koto.


LT's Shotokan Karate
Telephone: (201) 264-5619
Sensei Luis A. Taboada
5th Degree Black Belt

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