As I walked from my car in the parking lot, into the dojo, I asked God to bless my time in karate because I felt so very tired, distracted and somewhat overwhelmed (if in fact, a person can be ‘somewhat’ overwhelmed)?
The evening with Sensai was a blessing.  He talked to us about the requirements for the black belt test (although I will be preparing for this exam for a matter of years, there are men in the brown belt level who are ready to progress).  The expectations were clearly outlined so that everyone would understand.
While doing this, I was truly in awe because he gave us a stronger historical context about his journey with karate and just how many teachers in Alberta were our Sensai’s students.  Like he said, he’s been involved with Shotokan for a lifetime now. He told us that when his students achieve the rank that then allows them to teach as well…only a portion of his ideas are integrated into that teaching…and for him, it is so important that he explain the importance of our Shotokan lineage and that we honour those who have passed away and link ourselves back to the traditions of Japan.
I was very moved by his manner and his choice of words tonight.  I feel a responsibility to this practice.  I was blessed by my choice to attend class tonight.


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).

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