Shotokan Karate

What is Karate?

Karate, which literally means empty hand, is a system of unarmed self-defense using a variety of blocks, kicks, punches and strikes. There are many karate styles, each placing emphasis on different aspects of training.

Mr. Mikami teaches Shotokan karate, a Japanese style that is characterized by strong focus (a concentrated moment of energy) made possible by full hip motions and a total body commitment to the technique. This is formal training, based upon traditional teaching methods that gradually build up one's physical condition and mental concentration.

Shotokan karate is different from many other martial arts. Instead of thrusting the beginner immediately into actual sparring and contact situations- where injuries may easily happen and where little real training can occur- Shotokan begins by teaching basic principles and movements.

All other techniques are built upon this solid foundation. With an understanding of how power and speed are generated, progress will be made towards strong, effective technique.

An Unbroken Chain

The founder of Shotokan was Gichin Funakoshi, who taught karate to many individuals before his death in 1957. One of his students was Masatoshi Nakayama, a 10th dan and former chief instructor of the JKA (Japan Karate Association).

Mr. Nakayama died in 1987. It was under Master Nakayama that Mr. Mikami received his training. Thus, there is a direct and unbroken line of instructors who have nurtured and maintained the integrity of the traditional teachings.

Progression and Ranks

Rank tests include three main components:
  • Performance of a Kata, wherein the student executes a pre-arranged series of defensive and offensive moves;
  • Kihon, where the student shows their proficiency in basic techniques; and
  • Kumite (sparring), in which the student shows their offensive and defensive skills in a controlled sparring environment.

Rank (belt) tests are given every three months by certified JKA examiners. Successful completion of the test qualifies you to increase one step in rank. Individuals are ranked by numerically descending Kyu grades.

The progression of rank and the color of the belt associated with the rank is:

8th Kyu (yellow)
7th Kyu (orange)
6th Kyu (green)
5th and 4th Kyu (purple)
3rd, 2nd and 1st Kyu (brown)

Black belt, or Dan ranks, are assigned in numerically ascending grades:

Shodan (1st degree)
Nidan (2nd degree)
Sandan (3rd degree) and so forth.

All black belt ranks are recognized internationally and are registered at JKA headquarters in Japan.