Shotokan Karate

Origin And History


Shotokan or Shotokan-ryu is a style of karate developed by Gichin Funakoshi and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi. Gichin was born in Okinawa and is also known as the "Father Of Modern Karate" because of his efforts to make karate popular by conducting public demonstrations and as well as partaking in the development of university karate clubs.

Shotokan Karate was created from combining two popular styles of Okinawan karate that Gichin Funakoshi had trained under. These are Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. He also incorporated changes to the karate style made by Ankō Itosu, who is also sometimes dubbed as "Father Of Modern Karate". However, at that time, Fukanoshi did not name his style other than calling it "karate".

In 1924, Funakoshi's "karate" adopted the Kyū/Dan rank system and uniform as developed by judo founder Kano Jiogiro. Colored belts also known as obi are used to indicate rank.

On April 10, 1924, the first shodan (1st dan) was awarded by Funakoshi to Tokuda, Hironori Ōtsuka (Otsuka), Akiba, Shimizu, Hirose, Makoto Gima, and Shinyō Kasuya. The official dojo, however, was not established until 1939.


The name "Shotokan" is derived from the words "Shōtō", meaning "pinewaves" and "Kan" meaning "house or hall". "Shōtō" was the pen name Fukanoshi used when writing poetic and philosophical writings as well as in his messages to his students. In honor of Funakoshi, his students created a sign with the word "shōtō-kan" ad placed above the entrance of the hall. However, Gichin Fukanoshi himself never gave his style a name.

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