Karate is the art of unarmed self-defense. Karate-do is a Japanese phrase meaning kara—empty, te—hand, do—way, or the way of the empty hand.

Karate is a centuries old martial art, formally introduced in Japan by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Since the 1950s, karate has been practiced throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Karate is an excellent exercise, utilizing all the major muscle groups. The mental aspects are as important as the physical. The main objective of karate training is development of character, although karate is also a practical and effective self-defense system.


Okazaki Karate Academy follows the traditional Shotokan style. Shotokan karate is one of the most widely practiced forms in the world today, and one of the most traditional. Introduced to Japan from Okinawa by Master Gichin Funakoshi, Shotokan puts heavy focus on kihon (basic techniques), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring) to develop a range of powerful and dynamic techniques. The designation “Shotokan” derives from “Shoto,” which was the pen name Master Funakoshi used when writing poetry.


Essentially, karate is a merging of the physical, mental and spiritual. The physical principle of karate is to deliver the greatest possible force, concentrated at the point of impact, with maximum speed. Karate does not require the same type of muscular strength that is used to lift a heavy weight. The force of a karate blow is generated by the use of many body muscles brought into play in proper sequence. This concentration of power is known as “kime” (focus), whereby the muscles of the entire body are tensed, but only at the instant of impact.

But more highly regarded than technical skill in karate are the mental and spiritual objectives: the development of character, sincerity, effort, etiquette and self-control. Students are taught etiquette and respect for their instructor by bowing to their teacher at the beginning and end of class. Before and after sparring, the students also have to bow to their opponents as a mark of respect.

The aforementioned virtues have been emphasized since the art of karate was first developed.
Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of present day Karate, who passed away at the age of 89, said “A true student of Karate is one who will practice daily throughout his lifetime and never find the necessity to use his knowledge in anger against another... The ultimate aim of the art of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants."


Shotokan Karate is one of the oldest and most popular styles of Karate. It was developed at the beginning of the last century by Master Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) from sources in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Two relatively different styles - in spirit as well as in mechanics - used to exist in Okinawa in late 19th Century: Shorei-ryu and Shorin-ryu  The former was designed for well built people, placed emphasis on developing physical strength and was impressive in its shear power.  The latter was light and quick, with fast strikes and counterattacks, designed for people who were small in size and very agile.

After years of intense study of both styles, Master Funakoshi arrived at a new understanding of martial arts, and a novel style was created, that combined the ideals of Shorei and Shorin.

As in all Karate styles it is Katas, formal sequences of basic techniques, that form the backbone of the tradition. The traditional Japanese martial arts, Judo and Kendo, two of the seven traditional paths to enlightenment in Japanese classical culture, were heavily centered around combat (Kumite). Master Funakoshi instead, in the centuries old Okinawa tradition, sought a path to spiritual depth through individual technique. Thus, Shotokan initially developed as a formal style with little Kumite application, instead focusing on breathing, releasing energy and outstanding mind and body control.

In 1922, the first Karate Demonstration was held in Tokyo by Master Gichin Funakoshi and made a powerful impression on the Japanese public. After that, Karate became very popular and spread very fast in Japan. From the beginning, Master Funakoshi insisted on teaching Karate to college students. The first Karate-do Club was at Keio University. Today, Karate-do is spread into many countries around the world. In May 1948, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) was founded by the students of Master Gichin Funakoshi, and the standards of training (Kihon, Kata, Kumite) and competition were established.