SHOTOKAN, the most popular style of Karate-do, was founded by Gichin Funakoshi. Funakoshi was born in 1868 in the capital of Okinawa, Shuri, in a samurai family. From ancient times, Okinawans had practiced methods of self-defense, and after the ban on carrying weapons, in the 15th century, they created a highly effective art of unarmed combat.

Schools of martial arts differed according to the names of the areas: Nakha-te, Shuri-te, Tamari-te, etc.; common to all was the designation Kara-te ‘hands of China’. In the 18th century, the master of Chuan-shu Sokugava, from the Shaolin monastery in the Province of Henan, China, organized a private school of Kara-te in Shuri. In 1830, the government of Okinawa sent Matsamura Shokun from Shura to China to study martial arts. In 1848, he became Chief Instructor of martial arts in Okinawa. Later on, Matsamura’s disciple, Anco Asato, became the first mentor of Gichin Funakoshi.

In 1888, Funakoshi began teaching Kara-te. In 1902, it officially became part of the teacher training college curriculum. With Asato's permission, Funakoshi recruited the first classes of Kara-te students. In 1921, the future Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, attended Funakoshi's demonstration show. The the blows impressed him; powerful kicks combined with the throwing technique left no chance for the opponents to defend themselves. Since that time, Kara-te has been rapidly developing in Japan.


The first karate club was established in 1924 at Keio University, which had a group of karate enthusiasts. In 1933, Funakoshi, in his work, Dai Nippon Kempo Kara-te (The Great Japanese Method of the Empty Fist) replaced the Chinese KARA character meaning ‘Chinese’ with the homonymous Japanese KARA ‘empty’. "As the polished surface of the mirror reflects everything that stands in front of it, and a quiet gorge retains even rustles inside it, so a karateka must make his mind empty of selfishness and pride in order to face properly everything he encounters," this is how Funakoshi interpreted the philosophical concept of kara (empty, selfless, true). In 1935, the first karate complex was opened, called Shotokan. The word means ‘tiger’. The ‘Style of the Tiger’ is one of the five ‘animal styles’ practiced in Shaolin. But the name of the Dojo comes from Gichin's nickname, Shoto literally ‘waves and pines’ + kan ‘house’. In 1948, the Funakoshi team created the JKA (Japan Karate Association).

In 1949, Funakoshi’s student Nakayama Masatoshi (1913–87) became the Technical Advisor of the newly organized JKA; in 1955, he was elected its Chief Instructor. As Professor of the Physical Education Department of Takushoku University, he taught Shotokan-karate all over the world. He contributed to the improvement of competition rules, which have existed, practically unchanged, ever since.

Nakayama is the author of a nine-volume book series devoted to katas and kumite, called Best Karate. He was the first master in the history of Shotokan to attain the rank of the 9th Dan while alive, and was posthumously awarded the rank of the 10th Dan.

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President Shotokan Karate JSKA-RUSSIA

Россия Дранник (EN)
Drannik Aleksandr

Technical Director, Chief Instructor JSKA-RUSSIA

Россия Сизов (EN)
Sizov Sergey

Executive Director JSKA-RUSSIA

Россия Бегунов (EN)
Begunov Ruslan

Chairman of the College of Judges JSKA-RUSSIA

Россия Столбовой (EN)
Stolbovoy Maksim

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