Shotokan

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Jul 19, 2018 | in National Geographic
Shōtōkan
(松濤館流)
Shoto Kan Kanji

Shotokan (松濤館 Shōtōkan) is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularizing "karate do" through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.

Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, who continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements (in particular the notion that competition is contrary to the essence of karate) led to the creation of different organisations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokai (headed by Motonobu Hironishi and Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single "Shotokan school", although they all bear Funakoshi's influence.

As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of karate do.

by Dr. Alex Sternberg
Jun 29, 2018 | in Masters Speak

Dr Alex SternbergDuring the past 60 years, we have seen lots of changes affecting our karate community. The technical skill of todays champions is on a higher level than the early fighters, although most old timers would argue that fighters were tougher ‘back in the day.’

In the early sixties when I started to train, very few people ever heard of or knew what karate was. When I wanted to explain to someone what I was doing I used to ask if they ever heard of Judo. Then I would explain, karate is ”very similar, with the white gi and all, but we kick and punch and not throw.” Today, with the tremendous growth in the martial arts industry, everyone is familiar with what karate is. The hundreds of movies with karate trained heroes and villains, with ninja turtles and other popular karate themed shows having created a generation of children kicking and punching and doing karate. Millions have trained in some dojo or other as there are tens of thousands of local schools teaching karate throughout the USA. 

One thing, though, has not changed with all the evolution. We still have almost as many organizations as there are dojos. In fact, I defy anyone to come up with a new name for a karate association or group that hasn’t already been taken.

As karate training has flourished many students have become senseis, masters and grandmasters. Naturally, each grandmaster is entitled to start  his or her federation and add to the already crowded  field of “alphabet soup” groups.

And what’s wrong with this picture?...

by Dr. Alex Sternberg
Jun 28, 2018 | in Masters Speak

Dr Alex SternbergJews and blacks have many shared experiences of discrimination, suffering, and poverty that has made us natural allies for many years. During the civil rights movement, many Jews and prominent rabbis participated in demonstrations and marches with Dr King and were arrested. Some Jews like Schwerner and Goodman were killed by the Klan for leading voter registration drives among poor southern blacks in Mississippi. I, however, grew up in an all black Brooklyn ghetto and learned about black life from personal experience.

In 1965, four short years after emigrating to NY from Hungary, I found myself with a summer job in Brownsville Brooklyn. The year before, Brownsville erupted in one of the most destructive riots that made the community a household name across America.  Buildings were set on fire, stores were looted and people were hurt. Many were arrested.  A year later I was a 15 year old student attending one of the most respected and rigorous Rabbinical seminaries in Brooklyn when my father got me a summer job as a ‘gopher’ in his garment factory. Most of my friends from the seminary were off to camps and vacations while I was off working in a sweat shop because we needed the money.

Shortly after the summer began, I joined a local karate ‘dojo’ on Fulton street. Needles to say, I was the only rabbinical student and was training alongside some of the hard core denizens of one of America’s poorest black neighborhoods. I was an oddity but just as I was learning about black people, they were learning about me. The students were tough physically with hard-core attitudes. We didn’t have much interaction in the beginning, as I really didn’t understand the black lingo. I showed up and trained then went home...

by Dr. Alex Sternberg
Jun 28, 2018 | in Featured Masters

Background

Dr Alex SternbergMartial arts development goes back a long way. According to legend, Bodhidharma traveled from India to China to teach his brand of Buddhism. The monks at the Shaolin monastery where he stopped to teach did not possess the physical stamina required for hours of meditation, so Bodhidharma taught them physical endurance exercises in order to increase their stamina. As the story is told, these monks became very fierce fighters as a result of these exercises and thus the origins of martial arts were born.

Over the next many centuries, the development of jiu-jitsu and subsequently karate was done in secret, handed down from teacher to pupil and often from father to son. Knowledge of this secret and powerful art was a family business, to be perfected to the highest level. Lack of preparation often resulted in severe injury and even death. Everyone trained hard to survive. Later on, warriors such as the samurai, continued training in hand to hand combat and continued the tradition of perfection of all of the techniques that they learned. To best serve their lord, the highest level of skill mastery was expected...

Mar 13, 2018 | in Featured Masters

dave johnsonHistory
Professor Johnson began his journey into the world of Martial Arts in 1959. For over four decades he has studied more than a dozen styles of martial arts. In 1996 he was named “Master Instructor of the Year” by the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame and listed internationally in the Who is Who in Martial Arts by martialinfo.com. He is also a member of...