What is Shotokan karate?
Shotokan is the style of Japanese karate developed by Master Gichin Funakoshi (born 1868 in Shuri, Okinawa) the man most responsible for karate as we know it today. As a boy of eleven he began a study of the precursors of karate, mastering both of the major existing styles in Okinawa. These schools were known as Shorei and Shorin.
The Shorei approach is characterized by heavy, powerful movements. The Shorin method utilizes lighter, quicker techniques. From these schools Master Funakoshi created his karate style.
In 1922 Master Funakoshi was invited by the Japanese Ministry of Education to give a series of lectures and demonstrations in Japan. As a result of many requests he stayed in Japan to teach karate and with the transfer of this teaching to Japan came the eventual substitution of the word kara for the “Okinawa” in “Okinawa-te,” thus forming the word kara-te, literally meaning empty hand.
The founding of Shotokan in 1936 was a major landmark in Japanese karate history. Shoto was the pen name of Master Funakoshi, who was also well known as an author. Hence, the word Shotokan simply translates to ‘the school of Shoto’.
Shotokan became known as the style of karate taught to his students in major universities in Japan and latterly, taught to people all over the world.
Why choose Worcester Shotokan Karate Club?
Karate is a Japanese martial art and Shotokan is one of the most popular styles to have spread worldwide from Japan. There are a proliferation of Shotokan karate associations and clubs and somebody having no knowledge of martial arts faces a difficult decision over which club choose.
- WSKC is run strictly on a ‘non-profit’ basis.
- WSKC is dedicated to teaching traditional Shotokan karate.
- WSKC’s Sensei (Instructor) continues to further his own progress and trains regularly with Kato Shihan 9th Dan, IJKA World Chief Instructor.
- WSKC is dedicated to student progress, giving detailed and sympathetic instruction, carried out in a systematic manner with due regard to physical ability, placing maximum emphasis on ensuring correct natural movement of the body so as not to cause any damage to joints etc.
This is particularly important for the younger karateka (student of karate) whose bones are still in the soft growing / formation stages of development.
- WSKC members have the opportunity to attend seminars with Kato Shihan 9th Dan, IJKA World Chief Instructor in the UK and worldwide.
What is the IJKA?
The International Japan Karate-Do Association (IJKA) is the association to whom Worcester Shotokan Karate Club is affiliated.
World Chief Instructor for the the IJKA is Sadashige Kato Shihan 9th Dan who has now been resident in England and teaching Shotokan karate throughout the world for more than 40 years.
To find out about the IJKA please visit the official IJKA honbu website.
What age can I start Shotokan karate?
We accept students aged from 12 years upwards, and welcome both beginners and those with previous karate experience. We have found that in general students below this age do not have the mental discipline to cope with the demands of Shotokan karate. However, we are sometimes flexible to a slight degree on this club rule but this will depend strictly on the individual concerned. Please visit our Dojo for an informal discussion if your child has shown a personal interest in karate.
You are never to old to start learning Shotokan karate.
When is the next beginners class starting?
Beginner’s classes are held regularly throughout the year and full details will always be posted in advance on the Beginners page.
However, we will never turn anyone away who wishes to join the club at any other time.
The first lesson is FREE for beginners and a friendly welcome awaits at WSKC.
Does it matter that I’m not very fit?
You do not have to be fit to start learning Shotokan Karate. Shotokan Karate is a complete fitness system and beginners will quickly notice improvements in their fitness due to WSKC’s structured ‘step-by-step’ teaching which at every level is structured to the individual student’s ability.
Shotokan can become a lifelong pursuit for people of all ages.
What should I wear?
Loose fitting clothing such as tracksuit bottoms and a T shirt / sweatshirt or similar will be perfectly adequate for the first few weeks.
A Keikogi (Karate training suit) should be acquired after a student has completed several weeks of regular training. We can assist our students in obtaining Keikogi at very reasonable prices.
Keikogi for Shotokan karate are white in colour so that in the Dojo (place of training) everyone is equal.
The only distinction between students will be the colour of belt they wear around their waist signifying a particular level of progress / achievement.
How often should I train?
To make good quality progress in Shotokan, our students are encouraged to train twice each week.
However, students who can only train once each week will still be welcomed at WSKC but it should be noted that this will affect your rate of progress.
How much does it cost to train with WSKC?
The first lesson at WSKC is FREE for beginners and we don’t charge joining or membership fees. Please visit About our club for full details of our modest fees.
WSKC is able to offer reduced rates to students in higher education.
How do I join WSKC?
WSKC does not charge joining or membership fees. All we ask is for you to complete our membership form which will ask for a few personal details. WSKC respect that personal details are confidential and these will only be used for the sole purpose of;
- Ensuring that members do not have any medical conditions that would prohibit their participation in a physically demanding martial art and, that no medical doctor has ever advised against their participation in regular strenuous exercise.
- Contacting members in the event of unexpected changes to our scheduled training days / times.
Does it make any difference that I’ve studied Shotokan before?
Karateka who want to restart or continue their Shotokan training by joining WSKC are welcomed at the club.
Many of our past and present students have fallen into this category and, karateka will be eligible to wear the appropriate colour belt for their existing grade.
When will I get a black belt?
A black belt is seen by many potential beginners as the icon of success in any martial art.
Shotokan karate is a disciplined martial art requiring dedication and hard work, personified by translation of the Japanese ‘Mukin Shori’ which means ‘The way to success has no shortcuts.’
Typically, it will take 3 to 4 years of dedicated regular training for a beginner to progress from white belt level to the black belt level of Shodan (1st Dan) within the IJKA.
How can I get further information?
We have tried to cover the beginner’s aspect of Shotokan Karate training within our website pages. However, if there is further information you require, why not visit our dojo to discuss your needs. You will find an open and friendly welcome awaits.