Shotokan was founded by Gichin Funakoshi (1896-1957) in Tokyo in 1938. Funakoshi is considered to be the founder of modern day karate. Born in Okinawa, he began to study karate with Yasutsune Azato, one of Okinawa’s greatest experts in the art. In the earliest stages the martial art was known simply as "Te" or "Tode" which mean "hand". The Chinese character used to write Tode could also be pronounced "Kara" and the name Te was replaced with Karate-Jutsu or "Chinese hand art". This was later changed to Karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning for the Chinese character for "Kara", "Empty". From this point on the term Karate came to mean "Empty Hand" The Do in Karate-Do means "way" or "path", and underscores the moral and spiritual elements of the discipline and philosophy of Karate.
In 1921, Funakoshi first introduced Karate to Tokyo. In 1936, at nearly 70 years of age, he opened his own training hall. The dojo was named Shotokan after the pen name he used when he signed the poems that he wrote in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterized by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.
There are 26 Kata in Shotokan (15 basic and 11 advanced). All have "bunkai" or actual applications for all movements in them. They all start and end at the same place on the floor (embusen).