SHOTOKAN KARATE HISTORY
Shotokan is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi and his son, Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi. Gichin was born in Okinawa and is widely credited with popularising "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.
Shotokan was the name of the first official dojo built by Gichin Funakoshi, in 1936 at Mejiro, and destroyed in 1945 as a result of an allied bombing. "Shoto", meaning "pine-waves" (the movement of pine needles when the wind blows through them), was Funakoshi's pen-name, which he used in his poetic and philosophical writings and messages to his students. The Japanese "kan" means "house" or "hall". In honour of their sensei, Funakoshi's students created a sign reading shōtō-kan, which they placed above the entrance of the hall where Funakoshi taught. Gichin Funakoshi never gave his system a name, just calling it karate.
Rank is used in karate to indicate experience, expertise, and to a lesser degree, seniority. As with many martial arts, Shotokan uses a system of coloured belts to indicate rank. Most Shotokan schools use the kyū / dan system but have added other belt colours. The order of colours varies widely from school to school, at ECSK we use the colour system of: White>Red>Orange>Yellow>Green>Purple>Purple Stripe>Brown>Brown One Stripe>Brown Two Stripe>Black. Dan level belts are invariably black. Gichin Funakoshi himself never awarded a rank higher than Godan (5th dan black belt).