Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak

Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak

Morihei Ueshiba

"Eight forces sustain creation:
movement and stillness, solidification and fluidity,
extension and contraction, unification and division. "

" Techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow,
smooth-flowing like water, and as empty as space. "

excerpted from
The Art of Peace
Teachings of the Founder of Aikido

Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan on December 14, 1883. As a boy, he often saw local thugs beat up his father for political reasons. He set out to make himself strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard physical conditioning and eventually to the practice of martial arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of jujitsu, fencing, and spear fighting. In spite of his impressive physical and martial capabilities, however, he felt very dissatisfied. He began delving into religions in hopes of finding a deeper significance to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of budo, or the martial arts. By combining his martial training with his religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial art of aikido. Ueshiba decided on the name "aikido" in 1942 (before that he called his martial art "aikibudo" and "aikinomichi").

On the technical side, aikido is rooted in several styles of jujitsu (from which modern judo is also derived), in particular daitoryu-(aiki) jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that aikido takes the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we must also realize that many aikido techniques are the result of Master Ueshiba's own innovation.

On the religious side, Ueshiba was a devotee of one of Japan's so-called "new religions," Omotokyo. Omotokyo was (and is) part neo-shintoism, and part socio-political idealism. One goal of omotokyo has been the unification of all humanity in a single "heavenly kingdom on earth" where all religions would be united under the banner of omotokyo. It is impossible sufficiently to understand many of O-sensei's writings and sayings without keeping the influence of Omotokyo firmly in mind.

Despite what many people think or claim, there is no unified philosophy of aikido. What there is, instead, is a disorganized and only partially coherent collection of religious, ethical, and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared by aikidoists, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth or found in scattered publications about aikido.

Some examples: "Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family." "The essence of aikido is the cultivation of ki (a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual energy)." "The secret of aikido is to become one with the universe." "Aikido is primarily a way to achieve physical and psychological self- mastery." "The body is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created by the universe." And so forth.

At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:

(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible.
(2) A commitment to self-improvement through aikido training.

An Interview with Henry Ellis
Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
By Authur Lockyear

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Kung Fu Styles

Northern Shaolin

    With the original Shaolin Temple in Northern China long since destroyed, the main branches of Shaolin Kung Fu spread far and wide through China, undergoing many revisions and adaptations. The present system, known as Northern Shaolin, specializes in long-range fighting techniques. Based on some of the original temple boxing heritage, the proponents of this system maintain that kicks are more effective than hand movements because the legs obviously are longer than the arms.


    The mythical dragon has been characterized in the West as a serpentlike, winged monster which, according to some religions, including Christianity, represents the power of evil. However, other cultures, especially the Chinese, believed that the fabulous creature was benevolent, life giving and worthy of reverence, indeed, even worship. In ancient China, the dragon, as a Yang force, was associated with male fertility. Above all, the dragon represented the fertilizing power of rain. As the continuous pelts of rain may be used for healthy growth, they may also be used to engulf or destroy as in the Dragon style. The Dragon specialty at the time of attack is a combination of Hard and Soft techniques. Exponents rely on "floating and sinking movements with shoulders dropped and elbows bent." A powerful outflow of thrusting power is then released.

White Crane

    The regal spirit of the white crane has inspired what may be considered as the most elegantly beautiful of all the Chinese Kung Fu systems. Patterned after the aesthetic essence of the statuesque wading bird found mostly in marshes and open plains, the classic White Crane self-defense forms contain an unexpected deadly beauty, especially devastating for the aggressive beholder. The main principles of the White Crane style are really quite simple and direct, although extremely difficult to perfect. There are four main principles to remember: to Hurt, to Evade, to Penetrate, and to Intercept.

      To Hurt:

      A White Crane master will never fight unless it is to save lives or prevent harm to others. This includes, of course, the protection of oneself from destruction.

      To Evade:

      The White Crane master almost haughtily disdains physical contact with an opponent, instead opting for a single debilitating blow, usually delivered from long range. A White Crane saying has it that "If you evade an attack, there will only be one attack; if you block an attack there will be ten attacks."

      To Penetrate

      This means to break through the defense of the adversary. The master should take advantage of the tense side of the opponent's attention or the lax side of his inattention.

      To Intercept:

      Violent situations could possibly arise in which distasteful physical contact might be forced by a strong opponent. There are basically two methods of intercepting, physical interception and negative interception. Physical interception, the blow is intercepted just as it is launched. And negative interception, an application of pressure in the same direction as the antagonistic force.

Wing Chun

    The essence of Wing Chun, in Chinese terms, is "Opponent attacks, absorb and neutralize blow. Opponent withdraws, pursue and counter. Disengage restriction from arms, retaliate with penetrating thrust." This will take some time to understand and a lot of practical application to master. Technically, Wing Chun uses a constant flow of forward energy based on the principle that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Offensively, a Wing Chun artist will use a combination of straight and intercepting lines and deflecting arcs. We emphasize the word "offense" because Wing Chun is structurally an aggressive close-quarter style which, as a modern Wing Chun practitioner told us, "Doesn't give a damn about traditional block and punch routines."

Hung Gar

    Hung Gar is an adaptation of the Shaolin Tiger system, and stresses close-quarter fighting methods. This system was totally unlike the far-ranging jumping styles of the North, but it was extremely effective for combat in the confining alleys of China during the Ch'ing dynasty. In Hong Kong, Hung Gar artists consider a half hour in a strong horse stance adequate for daily exercise, in addition to powerful boxing and weapons sets.

Praying Mantis

    Some three hundred and fifty years ago Wang Lang founded the Praying Mantis form of Kung Fu. Wang based his martial art on a mantis he captured. He observed the mantis' offensive and defensive movements. After Wang's death his carefully thought out mantis heritage became divided when four of Wang's disciples, each claiming superior innovations, sought to be released from the founding school. The mantis master granted permission on one condition- each student name their individualized style after the markings on the back of a personally captured mantis. One had the appearance of a Yin-Yang symbol (Tai T'si), another looked like a plum blossom (Mei Hua), one showed the markings of seven stars (Tsi T'sing), and one had no markings and was called the Bare style (Kwong P'an).

Monkey Style

    It may be a very comical style of martial arts, but is truly one of the most deadly personal defense systems. Its origins trace back to at least 1842 when foreign missionaries were first allowed into China. When a normally peaceful man, Kau See, resisted being drafted he accidentally killed an officer. For this crime he was placed in prison, from his cell Kau See watched and imitated the movements of the prison "watchdogs" which were apes. He watched the movements of the apes for ten years, paying special attention to how the apes fought. When he was pardoned and released he became know as "The Monkey Master." Disciples soon joined him to learn his unusual hopping and squatting defense system.

Choy Lee Fut

    Choy Lee Fut's power originates from the waist through a strong horse stance. It utilizes this power to release punches from only a foot away from the target. It also uses basic Chin Na grappling and throwing techniques, high and low kicks, side kicks, snap kicks, hook kicks and turn kicks featuring 360-degree spins and turns. Intercepting and jamming are favorite tactics used against any enemy. Jam an opponent off balance by moving straight into him while blasting overpowering hooks and uppercuts. Some of these moves are strikingly similar to Western boxing.

    All information for this article was taken from the book, KUNG FU: History, Philosophy and Technique by David Chow and Richard Spangler.


    Little Nine Heaven is the oldest Taoist system known today dating back to 2698BC. It consists of three skills: ju kung (boxing), chian-kuan jen (swordsmanship) and shi shui (bone marrow washing). It consists of five forms, twelve animals, three rushes, five harmonies and the nine essentials. It is also the highest level of the I-Ching (Book of Changes).

    Hsing-I is an ancient art of fighting and healing that tunes the mind and body to a finely honed degree. It is said to have developed during the period of the Northern Sung dynasty (1127-1276 AD). The system consists of the five elements, twelve animals, tien-gunn, six harmonies, nine essences, and the theory of touch, go, kiss using the seven stars. Hsing-I is the easiest style to learn, but the hardest to master, because it is so easy.

    Chen Tai-Chi The old form taught at the school is called 13 postures. It consists of 13 sections and has 64 moves. The second form is called Pao Twi (cannon fist). The learning of chen sa chin (silk reeling energy), circles around the body's meridians like latitudes around the globe. The precise movements will give extraordinary power. This also provides a form of moving meditation in time.

    Splashing Hands is a fighting style which is an extremely practical, no-nonsense art. It features quick shuffling footwork and low-focused straight leg kicks. It is combined with jabs, punches, elbows and singular and two man fighting forms. Splashing Hands is geared for the street and dates back to early 1700.

    Iron Hand the term, refers to the properly developed human hands which can become hard like iron and generate tremendous power, but still maintain the look of a normal hand. It dates back to the early days of the Shaolin Temples. There are several methods of training in iron hand including 'slapping', 'thrusting' and 'cooking'.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karate Styles

Martial Arts Information by USADOJO.COM

When people hear the term "martial art" they generally think of Karate. One of the most popular martial arts, Karate had its roots in China, developed in Okinawa, and was later brought to Japan by Gichin Funakoshi. Karate originated in Okinawa in the 1600s. It was developed from imported Chinese martial arts skills and refined as an advanced means of self-defense because weapons were outlawed on the island. It was originally called Te, meaning "hand." Later, masters adopted the name Karate, meaning "empty hand" or "Chinese hand" (depending upon which characters are used to write the word).

The word Karate is formed by two characters, the first one kara (empty) and the other te (hand). Kara may be explained several ways. The first way is that through the practice of karate, self-defense techniques are learned, where no weapons are used, other than hands, feet, or other parts of the body. A second way, as explained by Master Funakoshi, "Just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who would study Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he [she] understand that which he [she] receives. This is another meaning of the element kara in Karate-do." Another meaning given by Funakoshi is that of always striving to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle. Finally, Funakoshi also talks about the elemental form of the universe, which is emptiness (kara, ku), "and thus, emptiness is form itself. The kara of Karate-do has this meaning." It is clear that Karate is much more than mere self-defense techniques.

Toward the end of the 19th century, Gichin Funakoshi trained with various karate masters, and then devised his own system, which he named Shotokan. He spread the style to the Japanese mainland and eventually to the West. Master Funakoshi, inspired by traditional martial arts from the main Japanese islands (such as Kyudo, Kendo, and Judo) modified Karate, which until that moment could have been called Karate-jutsu (a fighting art), and emphasized its philosophical aspects combining Karate techniques with traditional Budo (the martial way). The word Budo is formed by two Chinese characters. Bu is formed by two symbols, a symbol that means to stop is drawn inside another symbol of two weapons, two crossed halberds. Thus, bu means to stop conflict. As stated before, do means a way or a life philosophy. In Master Funakoshi's own words: "Since Karate is a Budo, this meaning should be deeply considered, and the fists should not be used heedlessly".

Today it is common to find both "traditional" and "competitive" styles of karate. Traditional styles being the formal Okinawan styles, and competitive styles being those involved mostly in tournament competition. Karate is based upon powerful linear kicks and punches. It is considered a "hard" martial art since its blocks and attacks are direct and forceful. Many different styles fall under the karate banner. All include hard­style kicks, punches, and blocks, but some emphasize linear movements, while others emphasize circular movements. In virtually every style, kata (patterns) practice and kumite (sparring) play an important role in training.

American Freestyle Karate. American freestyle (named by Dan Anderson) is not really a style, it more of method of non-Oriental training. It stresses training to capitalize on your own specific skills and capabilities rather than training to force yourself to conform to some preconceived idea of what a technique should be.

American Kempo. American Kempo (or Kenpo) (American Fist Law) is an eclectic art developed by Hawaiian Ed Parker. The art combines the Kara-Ho Kempo Karate that Parker learned from William Chow with influences from Chinese, Japanese Kosho Ryu Kenpo, Hawaiian, and Western martial art sources. Parker added many labels to concepts from these arts that originally has no labels. It blends circular motions and evasive movements with linear kicks and punches. It is oriented toward "street" self-defense. The system allows "artistic interpretation" and many American offshoots have evolved from it.

Note: In the Japanese language, the consonants "n" and "m" have the same symbol, thus the English spelling can be rendered either "Kempo" or "Kenpo". There are several arts in this family, but the spelling is not significant in distinguishing between them.

Cha Yon Ryu. Cha Yon Ryu (Natural Way) is an eclectic, fairly new martial art founded in 1968 by Kim Soo of Houston, Texas. Taekwondo and Shotokan Karate contributes kicking techniques, strong stances and direct, linear strikes and blocks. Okinawa-te movements add techniques with some angularity, and Quanfa Gongfu contributes fluid, circular movements. Hapkido adds defenses against chokes, grabs and armed attacks, as well as various throwing and falling techniques. Students strive to fulfill The Dojang Hun (Training Hall Oath): Seek perfection of character, Live the way of truth, Endeavor, Be faithful, Respect your seniors, and Refrain from violent behavior.

Full-Contact Karate. Full-contact karate was founded in the early 1970's by Mike Anderson and Jhoon Rhee. Similar to boxing, the goal is to knockout the opponent or to win on a decision by judges. Unlike boxing, kicks are permitted and a minimum number of kicks must be delivered each round.

Goju-Ryu. Goju-Ryu was founded in the 1930's by Miyagi Chojun from Okinawan Kate and Chinese Kempo techniques. It is combination of hard "go" and soft "ju" techniques that work together similar to yin and yang. Linear motion is combined with circular movements. Patterns are practiced slowly with emphasis on breathing.

Isshin-Ryu. Isshin-ryu was found in Okinawa in 1954 by Shimabuku Tatso by combining Shorin-ryu (90%) and Goju-ryu (10%) techniques. It uses low kicks, short stances, and awareness of surroundings to be useful for street fighting. It also teaches use of the kusarigama. Isshin-ryu emphasizes:

Kicks and punches that are thrown from natural stances eliminating wasted motions and giving you split-second advantages over opponents using some of the other styles.
Stresses proficiency with both hand and foot techniques, equally, making it a more versatile form of Karate because you have no weak points.
"Close in" techniques useful in "street fighting" making it a more realistic style of Karate.
Snap punches and snap kicks, where the limb does not fully extend and is immediately retracted (preventing excessive strain on the knees and elbows) permitting you to move in and out quickly without committing yourself to a disadvantageous position should you miss or misjudge.
Blocks with muscular portion of the forearm rather than the bone.
Fist formed with the thumb on top rather than wrapped over the first two fingers (this strengthens the wrist to help prevent buckling at the wrist on impact).
The vertical punch, which increases speed and can be focused at any given point.

Karate Connection. An American Kenpo based school created by Chuck Sullivan and Vic LeRoux. It includes techniques from many different styles; a "use what works" mentality.

Kempo. Kempo "way of the fist" (also known as Quan Fa, Chuan Fa, Jiaodishu, Kaiki, and Kenyu) is a Chinese martial art. Its techniques are similar to Karate with a focus on Buddhist philosophy. Other arts, such as archery and swordsmanship are also taught in Kempo schools.

Kenpo (Kosho Ryu). A Japanese based, philosophical art much like Jeet Kune Do but with a Zen influence, meaning lots of mind science material and healing arts. It is not a style of compiled patterns or specific techniques; it is a study of all motion and therefore cannot be stylized to look like a specific teacher or animal movement.

Kenpo is the family style of Grandmaster James Mitose. It was first taught to non-family members in Hawaii during the 1940's and 1950's. Mitose called his family style "Kyu-sho-ryu" Kenpo (old pine tree school fist law). According to Mitose, during the invasion of Genghis Khan, the Head Monk of the Shaolin Temple fled China and found refuge with the Mitose family. In appreciation for the kindness of the Mitose's, he taught them Shaolin Chuan Fa (Shorinji Kempo in Japanese). The, in 1235, a Shinto priest whom James Mitose calls his first ancestor became enlightened to what we call Kempo. According to Mitose, this man was a martial arts master and a Buddhist monk studying at Shaka In who found it difficult to be both. His religion taught him pacifism; his martial art taught him destruction. He pondered this dilemma under an old pine tree meaning Kosho in Japanese. He became enlightened and was from then on known as, Kosho Bosatsu, the Old Pine Tree Enlightened One. He discovered the relationship between man and nature and also the secret of the escaping arts. He founded the Kosho Shorei Temple of Peace, True Self Defense, and Kosho Shorei Yoga School.

One of James Mitose's students, William Chow, mixed it with elements of his father's Chinese style to produce his own style, called "Kara-ho" Kenpo Karate. Kenpo's techniques were influenced by those of various Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian martial arts. Kenpo training emphasizes a scientific approach to combat. Many patterns, rapid­fire hand techniques, and combinations are taught. Ed Parker popularized the style on the mainland by organizing the style and orienting it toward practical street self-defense. Although it is often categorized as an American martial art, the style's name is written with the same Chinese characters as Chuan-fa, a generic Chinese term for martial arts. The art received a popularity boost after Jeff Speakman, a student of Parker's, showcased it in the movie, "Perfect Weapon."

Kempo (Ryukyu). Ryukyu Kempo (which roughly translates into Okinawan kung-fu, or Chinese boxing science) is the original style of martial arts learned and taught by Gichin Funakoshi on the Okinawa, an island in the Ryukyu island chain. It stresses the existence of body points within your opponent that can be struck or grappled for more effective fighting. Funakoshi's first edition book "Ryukyu Kempo" shows him clearly grappling and touching an opponent. Later editions and current karate books only show a practioner with a retracted punch, where the original shows actively grappling an enemy. It is felt that Funakoshi was the last of the purists, wanting all to learn the art.

Okinawans, who have a culture and history of their own, became disenchanted with the Japanese, and were less inclined to teach them the "secret techniques" of self-defense. When American military soldiers occupied Japan after WWII, they became enamored of the martial-arts. It is theorized that the Japanese and Okinawans were reluctant to teach the secrets of their national art to the occupiers, and so taught a "watered down" version of karate-do usually reserved for children. Contemporary Kempo practioners practice "pressure point fighting" or Kyushu-jitsu and grappling, called Tuite. It is an exact art of striking small targets on the body, such as nerve centers, and grappling body points in manners similar to Jujitsu or Aikido.

There are a couple of physical differences in Kempo and many other styles. One is a three-quarter punch, rather than a full twist. Second is a fist whereby the thumb stops at the first finger, rather than the first two fingers. Third is the sword hand, which has the little finger placed as parallel as possible to the third finger and the thumb straight and on the inside rather than bent.

Kobo-Jutsu. Kobo-jutsu is a Okinawan style of Karate characterized by the large array of weapons it uses. The style makes extensive use of forms to perfect techniques.

Kyokushin-Kai. Kyokushin-Kai is a Japanese style of Karate found by Oyama Masutatsu in the 1950's. The style was influenced by Kempo, Gojuryu, and Zen. It is powerful art that emphasized breaking, breathing, multiple attacks in quick sucession, and kill techniques.

Shohei-Ryu (formally known as Uechi-Ryu). A traditional Okinawan, Zen based style founded by Kanbum Uechi . Although it has become one of the main Okinawan martial arts and absorbed many of the traditional Okinawan karate training methods and approaches, it is historically, and to some extent technically, quite separate.

The name Shohei-Ryu comes from two Chinese characters, "Sho" meaning "to shine brightly" and "Hei" meaning "fairness", "equality" and "peace". The name also refers to two Japanese eras, a past one, Showa, and the present one, Heisei. Ryu (pronounced "roo") is the Japanese word for "style" or "path".

Grandmaster Kanbun Uechi was born on May 5, 1877 in Isumi, a small village in northern Okinawa. In 1897, at the age of 20, he fled to Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province in China, to avoid being drafted into the Japanese army, which was occupying Okinawa at the time. For ten years, he studied the art of Pangai-noon, meaning half hard half soft, under master Shushiwa, a Buddist priest who had received his training in the Shoalin Temple in Southern China. Pangai-noon was derived from the interwoven movements of the tiger, crane and dragon and it concentrates on the use of the single-knuckle punch, spear-hand strike, pointed kick and circular block. Uechi opened his own school in Nanchon, a city in Fukien Province, where he taught for three years, having the distinction of being the only Okinawan ever accepted in China as a teacher. Disheartened after one of his students became involved in a dispute and killed another person, Uechi vowed never to teach again, and, in 1910, he closed his school and returned Okinawa where he married and, on June 26, 1911, his son Kanei was born. Uechi still refused to teach his art and only once during the ensuing years did he reluctantly demonstrate his kata.

Absorbing some Okinawan Goju-ryu over the decades, Shohei-Ryu still retains its original Chinese flavor, both in its technique and in the culture of the dojo. It is a "half-hard, half-soft" style very similar to such southern Chinese styles as Fukienese Crane (as still practiced in the Chinese communities of Malaysia), Taiwanese Golden Eagle, and even Wing Chun. Conditioning the body for both attack and defense is a common characteristic of both Okinawan karate and southern Shaolin "street" styles, and as such is an important part of Shohei-Ryu training. There is a strong internal component to the practice, including focused breathing and tensioning exercises similar to Chinese Qigong. Shohei-Ryu, following its Chinese Crane heritage, emphasizes circular blocks, low snap kicks, infighting (coordinating footwork with grabs, locks, throws, and sweeps), and short, rapid hand traps and attacks (not unlike Wing Chun). The style incorporates the characteristics of the Wushu animals. It uses circular motions and uses the Phoenix Eye single knuckle punch. Unlike most Karate styles, it uses grappling techniques.

Shorin Ryu. Shorin Ryu is an Okinawan soft style. Known for its light, quick, and agile techniques that are suitable for a person of light body structure. Because of its strict spiritual aspects it is considered a religious sect.

Shorinji Kempo. Shorinji Kempo is a Japanese Karate style that is deeply rooted in Zen meditation. It was created by So Doshin who says it is based on traditional Shaolin teachings. In the 1970's, the Japanese courts forced So Doshin to the change the name of his school to Nippon Shorinji Kempo. It stresses being calm in action. Students first learn its deep spirituality, then learn the fighting techniques. Because of its combination of Buddhism, philosophy, and martial arts, many consider Shorinji Kempo a religious sect.

Shorei Ryu. Shorei Ryu is an Okinawan hard style. Know for its heavy, powerful techniques and body toughening training. It is known for the its numerous amount of stances. It is more suitable for a person of heavy body structure. It strives to emulate the actions of the 5 traditional animals and teaches all the traditional Okinawan weapons, such as the bo, tonfa, and sai. Some characteristics of shorei-ryu:

  • Stances exceptionally low in kata form.
  • Seiken thrust: slightly downward and in center of body. The rear leg moves slightly forward at the completion of the punch. The moving of the rear leg is automatic and is caused by the power generated by the force of the punch and the forward movement of the hips.
  • Fist: index finger under curled thumb.
  • Hips: rotate with a definite forward movement.
  • Blocks: all start spiraling at wrists and spiral until completion of block.
  • Head snap when turning.
  • Thousand hand, five and six-count rice exercises, and sun fist.
  • High rising block - executed from thigh up.
  • Teeth clenched.
  • Wide-eyed stare.
  • Eight faces: the art of looking or expression (hyojo do). (Confidence, Friendly, Solemn, Unconcerned, Contempt, Shock, Fear, Anger)
  • All kicks, blocks and strikes are 90% circular (point and circles).
  • Kicks: for every forward one there is a reverse one.
  • Te-katana and te-uke covers are very obvious in all Shuri-ryu techniques and katas.
  • Body: always relaxed until exact moment of completing technique.

Shotokai Karate-do. Shotokai Karate-do is a non-competitive style of Karate derived from Gichin Funakoshi's Karate by Masters Yoshitaka (Gigo) Funakoshi and Shigeru Egami. The word Shotokai is composed of three kanji characters in Japanese. The Sho character is taken from the word matsu which means pine tree. To is the character for waves. Pine Waves is the English translation that tries to express what the original Japanese kanji represent, the sound that is produced by the pine needles when the wind blows through them, a sort of wave sound. Gichin Funakoshi, used Shoto as a pseudonym when he signed his poetry works. The word kai means organization. Thus, Shotokai means the Organization of Shoto, or the Organization of Master Gichin Funakoshi. Kan, means building or house, thus Shotokan is the house or building of Shoto.

Shotokai does not consider Karate a sport so it avoids all type of competitive tournaments. Rather, it stresses Karate as a Budo art that is concerned with personal development through the study and practice of Karate as a Do, a Way of Life, and the development of the internal energy, Ki. Shotokai movements are full of vitality and energy, but they use the principles of harmony and relaxation and avoid the use of brute force. Each Shotokai student in a group, has his or her own way of attaining mind-ki-body unity, in a way that permits all students to learn from each other. In a training atmosphere void of distinctions, communication grows and mutual respect arises unhindered.

Shotokan. Shotokan is the "authorized" Japanese style of Karate. It is an Okinawan style founded by Gichin Funakoshi. Shoto was the pen name of Funakoshi. He combined Shorin and Shorei to a style that would accommodate all body structures. According to Funakoshi "The art of karate strives neither for victory, nor for defeat, but for the perfection of the character of its practitioners." Shotokan is a "hard" linear style that is a true "empty hand" art", it does not include weapons training. Although originally known for its a lethal attacks, dynamic entry techniques, and its theory of "one strike, one kill," similar to other martial arts, it has evolved into a sport. Shotokan training emphasizes mastering a few techniques rather than learning many techniquees.

Shotokai and Shotokan are two names for the same thing. Shotokai is the name of the Organization established in 1935 to raise funds for the building of Funakoshi's Main Training Hall. Gichin Funakoshi held only two positions during his lifetime: one as Head Instructor of the Shotokan Dojo and the other as director of the Shotokai school.

Shotokan is the name of the building finished in 1936 that was the result of the work done by this organization. In time, people who trained in Karate were not only known for practicing Karate but also began to be related to different "styles", even though Gichin Funakoshi was against this. His students began to be known as of the "Shotokan", the place where they trained, or "Shotokan-Ryu", the Shotokan Style.

After Master Gichin Funakoshi's death in 1957, Shotokai was heir of his symbol (O-sensei's Tiger), the Shotokan and Shotokai names, and more importantly all his documents and writings, which is why Shotokai is in charge of editing and publishing his works. Shotokai's headquarters in Japan is still the Shotokan Dojo, a though it has been reconstructed since the original one burned during a World War II bombing. The Shotokan name has been misused by many groups with no respect for Master Funakoshi or his families wishes. For this reason, many uninformed people relate Gichin Funakoshi with sport karate, something he was strongly against.

Wado-Ryu. Wado-ryu "school of the way of harmony" was founded in the 1920's by Otsuka Hidenori, one of Funakoshi Gichin's students. Ohtsuka studied Jujutsu for many years before becoming a student of Gichin Funakoshi, considered by some to be Funakoshi's most brilliant student. Ohtsuka combined the movements of Jujutsu with the striking techniques of Okinawan Karate, with a strong focus on evasion through body shifting. Style has higher stances and shorter punches than Shotokan. Training stresses spiritual discipline. After the death of Ohtsuka in the early 1980s, the style split into two factions: Wado Kai, headed by Ohtsuka's senior students; and Wado Ryu, headed by Ohtsuka's son, Jiro. Both factions continue to preserve most of the basic elements of the style.

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