What Is Shotokan Karate?

The word karate-do is made up of three Japanese characters. Their literal meaning is “Way of the Empty Hands.” Karate is a martial art of empty handed self-defense; whereas it teaches its’ students to use unarmed body parts, such as hands and feet, to ward off attackers.

Karate is made up of four aspects.
1)  Character Builder
2)  Self-Defense
3)  Physical Exercise
4)  World Wide Sport

“The world of karate cannot be compared to any other sport or physical exercise. Karate developing the whole body and mind can be experienced by anyone. Since karate offers self-defense, character development, physical exercise, a historical art and a sport, anyone of any age and any ethnic group can train in the way of karate.”

“True karate is this: that in daily life one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.”

– Master Gichin Funakoshi



Gichin Funakoshi (Found of Shotokan)

Master Gichin Funakoshi is widely considered the primary “father” of modern day karate due to his efforts to introduce the Okinawan art to mainland Japan, from where it spread to the rest of the world.

Born in 1868, he began to study karate at the age of 11, and was a student of the two greatest masters of the time, Azato and Itosu. He grew so proficient that he was initiated into all the major styles of karate in Okinawa at the time. For Master Funakoshi, the word karate eventually took on a deeper and broader meaning through the synthesis of these many methods, becoming karate-do, literally the “way of karate,” or of the empty hand. Training in karate-do became an education for life itself. Master Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce karate-do to mainland Japan. In 1916 he gave a demonstration at the Butokuden in Kyoto, Japan, which at that time was the official center of all martial arts.

On March 6, 1921, the Crown Prince, who was later to become the Emperor of Japan, visited Okinawa and Master Funakoshi was asked to demonstrate karate for him. In the early spring of 1922 Master Funakoshi traveled to Tokyo to present his art at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo organized by the Ministry of Education. He was strongly urged by several eminent groups and individuals to remain in Japan, and indeed he never did return to Okinawa. Master Funakoshi taught only one method, a total discipline, which represented a synthesis of Okinawan karate styles. This method became known as Shotokan, literally meaning the clan or the  house of Shoto, which was the Master’s pen name for his poetry, denoting the sound of the wind blowing through pines.

In 1949 the Japan Karate Association was founded with  Master Funakoshi as the chief instructor and the late head of the JKA Masatoshi Nakayama on the committee as principal active instructor. Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at 89 years of age.

The American JKA of New York, SMAC Dojo encourages competition in sport Karate for the students, especially our youngsters.

“In healthy competition, confidence develops”

Our philosophy is based on the core principles of “character, sincerity, dedication, etiquette and self control” – making Shotokan Karate an especially good martial-art for children and families as well as individual adults.

Please contact us or come down and train. Everyone is welcome.

Yours in Shotokan
– Avi Azoulay, Chief Instructor



Seek Perfection of Character
Hitotsu! Jinkaku kensei ni tsutomuru koto!

Be faithful
Hitotsu! Makoto no michi o mamoru koto!

Hitotsu! Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto!

Respect others
Hitotsu! Reigo o omonzuru koto!

Refrain from violent behavior
Hitotsu! Kekkino yu o imashimuru koto!

Shorin & Shorei

Shotokan Karate is comprised of 26 core kata, categorized into 2 types ‘Shorin’ and‘Shorei’.

Shorin kata movements are performed with the mind and bodyset of being flexible, soft and slow, with quick sharp movements.

Shorei kata movements are performed with the mind and bodyset of being strong, solid, with solid movements, strong-hard foundation.

Listed below are all 26 katas divided into their specific category:


Kata Name # of Moves Kiai at Move # Kata Meaning
Heian Shodan 21 9, 17 “Peaceful Mind”
Heian Nidan 26 11, 26
Heian Sandan 20 10, 20
Heian Yondan 27 13, 25
Heian Godan 23 12, 19
Bassai Dai 42 19, 42 “Penetrating the Fortress – Big”
Kanku Dai 65 15, 65 “Look to the Sky – Big”
Empi 37 16,36 “Flying Swallow”
Gankaku 42 28, 42 “Crane on a Rock”
Bassai Sho 27 17, 22 “Penetrating the Fortress – Small”
Kanku Sho 48 6, 48 “Look to the Sky – Small”
Unsu 48 36, 48 “Parting the Clouds”
Nijushiho 24 18, 23 “Twenty-four Steps”
Wankan 24 24 “Kings and Crown”
Chinte 32 28, 32 “Rare Hands”
Gojushiho Dai 67 59, 66 “Fifty-four Steps – Big”
Gojushiho Sho 65 57, 64 “Fifty-four Steps – Small”


Kata Name # of Moves Kiai at Move # Kata Meaning
Tekki Shodan 23 12, 19 “Iron Horse Stand”
Tekki Nidan 24 16,24
Tekki Sandan 36 16,36
Ji’on 47 17, 47 “Love and Goodness”
Jitte 24 13, 24 “Ten Hands”
Hangetsu 41 11,40 “Half Moon”
Sochin 41 30, 41 “Strength and Calm”
Meikyo 33 32 “Bright Mirror”
Ji’in 38 11,35 “Love and Shadow”

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