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Shotokan karate in Perth: Brief history and features of the discipline

Local Perth Shotokan karate collectives, such as WSKF (World Shotokan Karate Federation) Australia, teach people the ways of a potent martial art, the Shotokan, which is a unique variation of the original Japanese Karate¬-do discipline. About.com contributor and martial arts expert Robert Rousseau offers this excerpt on the history of Shotokan, and how it is practised today.

Shotokan Karate

The history of the martial arts style of Shotokan karate begins with Gichin Funakoshi, a man who is given great credit not only for its birth but also for helping popularise karate in general. However, in recent years a UFC fighter by the name of Lyoto Machida has done quite a bit to bring the art of Shotokan to the forefront as well. Let’s put it this way, Machida knows how to strike with devastating force before anyone even realises he’s considering it.

Funakoshi, better known in Shotokan circles as Funakoshi-sensei, was already a trained martial arts practitioner before he conceptualised Shotokan. He was trained in the ways of two Okinawan martial arts: the Shuri-te and the Naha-te. Funakoshi-sensei effectively merged these two disciplines into the unified discipline known today as the Shotokan.

Funakoshi-sensei initially developed Shotokan karate as a potent form of self-defence, inspired by his philosophical values that “there is no ‘first hand’ in karate,” meaning a karate practitioner must never strike first. The primary purpose of karate as a self-defence discipline is further strengthened through another of Funakoshi-sensei’s principles—“Once you leave the shelter of home, there are a million enemies”. This basically means that danger is lurking everywhere at any time, and that one should always be prepared.

Shotokan karate training is comprised of three parts, namely the Kihon (basics), Kata (movement), and Kumite (sparring). The martial art is easily identifiable by virtue of long, deep stances prevalent in the three parts of training, intended to develop the abilities of the lower extremities to generate powerful blows and execute numerous techniques.

Another distinguishing factor of this karate form are the sharp, powerful motions, prompting people to think of Shotokan as a hard-hitting style of martial art. Over the years, world-renowned practitioners like Sensei Hitoshi Kasuya (who is expected to visit Perth again next year) further refined Funakoshi-sensei’s original techniques into how this karate style is known today.

While Shotokan may once have seemed appropriate practice only among adults, children can now participate as well, through specialised Perth kids martial arts training programs that are being offered at WSKF Australia. More serious exercises and application of techniques are offered for older and advanced martial arts students.

(Source: A History and Style Guide of Shotokan Karate, About.com)

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