View Full Version : Shotokan

don bohrer
10-18-2001, 01:31 AM
In addition to Aikido I am considering Shotokan as my next art. As always it comes down to the teacher/school and ones motivation but I would like to hear comments you guys my have on Shotokan. My back ground is in American Kenpo.

10-18-2001, 04:56 AM
Really rigid with deep-assed stances but in my opinion there are more good Shotokan stylists than "American" Kenpo guys. How the hell is Chuan Fa an American art anyway?

Shotokan is "school-boy' karate. It's watered down but it's better than any American Kenpo, Ed Parker Kenpo, Mitose " the beater and killer of defenseless old folks" Kenpo, or any other money-making Westernized supposed Kenpo junk.

The only true Kenpo is Ryukyuan Kenpo: Matsumura Kenpo or the like...

10-18-2001, 06:40 AM
I take shotokan and love it. But your first inclination is correct: find a good school first, in any art, and you'll be better off.

For more info about shotokan check out this site: 24fightingchickens.com

K. Mark Hoover

don bohrer
10-18-2001, 08:08 AM
You hit on my problem with american kenpo, money. I do believe that an instructor has the right to earn a living, but I find the tuition and contracts a bit much.

Thank you for the site. I will check it out shortly.

10-18-2001, 03:44 PM
I took kempo for about a year and didn't really like it at all. I have a friend who studied Shotokan for 5 years & i HATE sparring that mug. He's been studying Capoiera for the past 2 years now, and abit of JJJ. But his foundation is Shotokan, and honestly, i've SEEN him WHOOP A$$ in more than a few fights where it woulda been a trip to the hospital if he lost. So i guess it depends alot on your instructor(and your willingness to hand out a beat down when push comes to shove) but I personally think Shotokan is a great art. just my 2 cents. ;)

In mildness is the strength of steel

10-18-2001, 04:02 PM
My experience with Shotokan is very breif. I do recommend reading "Karate-Do: My Way Of Life" by Ginchin Funokoshi, founder of Shotokan. (He would sign his art and poetry "Shoto"...a names derived from his long solitary walks through the pine tree forests...and his students called his karate "Shoto-kan"). It is good, I think, to try to understand the founder's background and history of the art.

"She ain't got no muscles in her teeth."
- Cat

10-18-2001, 04:07 PM
it depends on the instructor, but a good , traditional shotokan school will develop very strong legs, and teach you good body mechanics for power punches.

"You guys have obviously never done any real fighting if you are mocking spitting"
Spinning Backfist

don bohrer
10-20-2001, 12:59 AM
So what are the hand strikes and kicks found in shotokan? American Kenpo has a broad range of strikes which have a reacurring pattern in the system.

10-20-2001, 07:04 PM
I trained traditional shotokan for a couple of years in college. It's better as a traditional martial "art" than a fighting art, but the training we did would prepare you to fight better than most "traditional" schools you encounter.

Jimmy is right about the hand strikes. In our school, the most powerful weapon was the reverse punch (basically, a right cross, assuming you're right handed). Many of the sparring techniques were built around setting up a way to deliver a very hard right to the face or solar plexus.

Sound limited? Well, it is. But having a good right cross is always a good thing.

I also gained some reasonable hand-eye coordination/timing, hand-speed, and body toughening from the sparring drills.

Keep in mind, though, that in a traditional shotokan school sparring (kumite) and sparring-related training is only about a third of the curriculum. Forms (kata) and basics (kihon) should each comprise a third of training. Kata and basics are cool, if you're into that, but if you really want to learn striking, I would go to a school that takes the 33% sparring training and expands it to roughly 100%. No need for those other two, IMO, for fighting.

10-20-2001, 07:07 PM
Oh yeah, if you want to do traditional shotokan, try to make sure the school is Japan Karate Association affiliated. Doesn't assure that it's a good school, but in my experience increases the likelihood.

10-20-2001, 09:58 PM
If you increase the sparring training to 100% then you're no longer studying shotokan. You're studying sparring training.

Which in and of itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but let's not call it shotokan, okay? ;)

K. Mark Hoover

10-20-2001, 11:31 PM
I wasn't.


10-20-2001, 11:38 PM
OK guys, before you think that Shotokan has limited strikes available, check out the first couple of volumes of Best Karate by M. Nakayama.
It irks me when Shotokan and TKD instructors leave out the techniques found in the kata, it tells me that they don't "get" the very arts they teach. While Shotokan may be a "schoolboy" martial art, it is not special ed art either.

"Americans don't have the courage to come here," Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban who right about now is getting jiggy with his first of 70 virgins.

“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” Last words of Todd Beamer heard over his mobile line right before rushing a hijacker.

don bohrer
10-21-2001, 01:19 AM
So Shotokan is complete as for what they train to accomplish. Which seems to be a system of basic strikes and a solid method to deliver these strikes. The web site 24fightingchickens.com summed up Shotokan as a dueling art, and the author of the site explained that Shotokan is excels at this. Would that be the agreement here? Guys thanks for all the replies.

10-21-2001, 02:34 AM
I trained shotokan for several years, and yes, I was exposed to all sorts of techniques, both in the kata and in the basics. However, we didn't train in those techniques for fighting. Shotokan has elbow strikes, knee strikes, spear hands, hammerfists, ridge hands, knife-hands, testical grabs, and all kinds of other crap, but we didn't train to use those in sparring or fighting. Our instructor just sort of explained what the techniques in the forms were and left it at that.

And in Japan ISKF/JKA tournaments you won't see any of those techniques either, so don't go telling me about how I wasn't drinking from the source. We had all kinds of Japanese exchange students (it was a college club) and their shotokan was identical to ours, in content if perhaps not in intensity (some of those guys were pretty hardcare). Also, our school had frequent contact with the regional head instructor, Mikami out of New Orleans, and various shihans from the Japan branches. No doubt you could find MORE traditional schools, but as far as the US goes, it was pretty traditional.

10-21-2001, 02:35 AM
Anyway, I apologize for sounding terse in that last post; I didn't mean to come off that way.

Just wanted to make the point that even though many techniques may be "taught" in a school, frequently only a handful are usually heavily emphasized.

Maybe I'm generalizing too much, but our school was all about the reverse punch.

10-21-2001, 03:21 AM
True. Only a handful of techniques are emphasized because shotokan's basic premise is that you should be extremely proficient in a few moves rather than have an overview of several hundred. To wit:

Stances: Yoi, front stance, back stance, horse stance

Strikes: backfist, reverse punch, lunge punch, palm heel

Blocks: shuto, middle block, high block, low block

Kicks: front snap kick, side kick, back kick, roundhouse

These are the Basic 16 as they're sometimes called. But they are by no means the only techniques learned within the system.

And I couldn't agree more about the book "Dynamic Karate" by Nakayama. It is an excellent treatise that explores all aspects of the shotokan system, even down to old style 'fists' used by the Okinawan Masters.

K. Mark Hoover

10-21-2001, 03:47 AM
Budokan, you're in Mississippi? Are you from the state? I'm a native Mississippian, but I left in 1993.

The club where I trained was at University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg) with T. Waggoner as instructor. It was a great experience.

don bohrer
10-21-2001, 05:13 AM
Now, If I can ask another important question. Are you guys still practicing Shotokan and if not why? Guess I am just trying to rationalize my own move away from Kenpo.

10-21-2001, 09:48 PM
I quit because of accumulated injuries and because of moving away from the area.

Also, this was about the time the UFC started, and karate began to lose credibility as a fighting art in my eyes. After doing some brief and painful training under a sadistic MMA teacher, during which time I saw him demolish a number of TKD and karate black belts, I came to realize that the gap between shotokan and actual fighting was pretty large.

I still appreciate shotokan as a martial art. It's aesthetic, meditative, and, depending on the class, physically challenging. It also probably has some self-defense applications. But if you're really interested in self-defense you'd best supplement it with BJJ or some other grappling style.

P.S.: Don't take my experience with an ******* as representative of MMA style training. There are lots of excellent instructors nowadays.

10-21-2001, 10:03 PM
No, I'm not native to MS but we've been here for about 3.5 years now.

I take shotokan because the school I'm at is one of the best in the state, and I also happen to enjoy the different facets of the art.

Oh, by the way, grappling is already inherent within the style of shotokan. If you have a good instructor he already knows this and will show it to you. ;)

K. Mark Hoover

don bohrer
10-22-2001, 05:35 AM
Now on a personal note. Why the did most of you make a change from Shotokan to another art? I am doing a little soul searching myself and want to temper my decision with your experiences.

don bohrer
10-22-2001, 09:16 AM
Must be work. Yeah that's it.

don bohrer
10-23-2001, 02:31 AM
From the experience you guys gained during Shotokan training how does the sparring hold up againts TKD and other arts? Also is the self defense side close to realistic without to many silly moves?

10-23-2001, 03:07 AM
I sense that some here will disagree with me, but here goes.

The shotokan training I did was not geared toward self defense. I do feel that it would improve your chances in a confrontation. Its greatest strengths were in hand-eye coordination and hand speed. Its sparring by and large is pretty fast and pretty intense; in our class the free sparring was hard contact to the body but no contact to the face (punches always controlled). We either wore no pads or just those little football hand pads. Some people wore shin pads.

No contact to the face sucks. It was better than "point" sparring, though, in that shotokan judges wouldn't score a blow to the head unless it was powerful and well-aimed. Still, it was a big problem at the time. There are better gloves now (like MMA gloves) that perhaps have allowed students to strike to the face. In any case, I did feel my punching improved a lot in shotokan.

Also, one point and three point sparring was helpful in developing pretty good hand-eye coordination.

The first time a sparred NHB, though, was eye-opening. Shotokan sparring didn't teach me anything about standup or prone grappling, clinch fighting, spacial tactics (using walls, corners, furniture, other objects etc.) dirty tactics, psychology of confrontations, ground fighting, or submissions. There were all kinds of omissions, and they became glaringly obvious.

If self-defense is your primary interest, then I would say the kihon (basics) and kata (forms) of shotokan are pretty much a waste of time. If self-defense is only part of your interest, then I would say that shotokan can be very fulfilling. Its techniques are not flashy, and most of them are not "pointless." But you have to enjoy kata for its own sake, and basics for their own sake, because if you don't you'll be frustrated by the amount of time spent on them. Also, they don't add much, IMO, to your fighting skills.

Shotokan as I was taught it was a real zen thing. My view is that it is a first rate martial art, but second rate for self-defense.

Oh, another thing to keep in mind: most shotokan schools seem to have adopted the traditional mindset that the style's own way of doing things is the "best" way. Don't expect to be able to criticize or disagree with your instructor about very much as far as technique is concerned.

I sometimes consider getting involved in shotokan again, my I'm afraid my experiences in kickboxing and judo have pretty much ruined me. I find shotokan just too constraining and stylized.

10-23-2001, 03:51 AM
We used to have guys from a nearby Shotokan school "visit" the JJJ school I went to. They were fast, powerful and easy to throw and lock. Now that's just the school that used to visit us, I've since met Shotokan people who are practicle.

"Americans don't have the courage to come here," Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban who right about now is getting jiggy with his first of 70 virgins.

“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” Last words of Todd Beamer heard over his mobile line right before rushing a hijacker.

10-23-2001, 05:26 PM
Shotokan kata are loaded with self-defense and grappling moves. If you have a good instructor he will be able to point them out to you and help you develop them. Besides that, I've never heard of a karate school that DOESN'T teach basic self-defense techniques, although I suppose they do exist. (More's the pity)

Kihon too are practical for self-defense. Even a simple block can be used as a self-defense move or even a pre-emptive attack if launched correctly. Again, the key to learning this is by finding a good instructor--an increasingly difficult job in this age of cookie-cutter McDojos....

K. Mark Hoover

10-23-2001, 07:01 PM
Personally, I have never trained in Shotokan Karate, and so I do not have the experience needed to make an educated surmise of the styles strengths and weaknesses.

But, I have trained with several Shotokan stylists over the years and found what they did to be very similar to Isshinryu karate in content. In other words it was pretty generic Japanese/Okinawan karate. Nothing that really made it stand out as compared to Isshin-ryu or most other karate systems that I have seen.

Keep in mind that I am speaking purely about the techniques and their execution, not the philosophy behing the art or its concepts.

Unlike many of you, I made the switch from a more traditional karate style (Isshin-ryu) to kempo (not American kenpo). I by far prefer kempo to karate, but that's just me.


10-24-2001, 05:39 PM
Interesting. I actually took isshin-ryu before I switched to shotokan and noticed several fundamental differences between the two styles. And neither are generic Okinawan karate styles, IMO.

K. Mark Hoover

10-24-2001, 06:23 PM
Isshinryu was my first art and I still get the occaisional lesson in once in a while. I always felt it was different than Shotokan too. Budokan why'd you switch?

"Americans don't have the courage to come here," Mullah Mohammed Omar, leader of the Taliban who right about now is getting jiggy with his first of 70 virgins.

“Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” Last words of Todd Beamer heard over his mobile line right before rushing a hijacker.

10-24-2001, 09:09 PM
BTW, it sounds like your problem is with your instructor and his business practices, not with American Kenpo itself. Who is your instructor? I didn't know there was anyone teaching AK in El Paso.


If you pr!ck us, do we not bleed? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that the villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction. MOV

don bohrer
10-25-2001, 03:23 AM
Your right my issue is not with American Kenpo as a martial art. The system is organized well and is structured for learning. Kenpo is beuatiful to practice and watch. We have Four schools in the area. One of those is in Jaurez. They differ slightly on kata, and techniques from El Pasa but are tough fighters. Almost time for class. Be cool.

10-25-2001, 03:18 PM
I switched because I moved from Shreveport (where I had taken isshin-ryu). I wanted to stay in the JMA so decided to take shotokan. I really like shotokan, but have to admit there's a soft spot in my heart for my old isshin-ryu classes.

K. Mark Hoover

10-25-2001, 10:40 PM
Shotokan and Isshinryu do have many differences, but their simularities are far greater in my opinion.

They use different kata. Yes, but the techniques within the kata are the same.

Isshinryu uses vertical punches primarily. Yes, but the method of generating power is the same as with reverse punching.

When I use the term "generic", I am making a very broad statement about the skill base.

For example: In my opinion, if a practitioner truly earns the rank of black belt in Shotokan, it will not be difficult for him to earn one in Isshinryu. Pretty much all he would need to do would be to learn the kata, lineage, history, and customs. He already has the skills.

However, his karate skills are a bit ****her removed from kung fu or jujitsu skills.

To me, most styles are generic. Isshinryu is generic when put along side Shotokan, ****o-ryu, Wado-ryu, Shorin-ryu, American karate, etc.

Dark Knight
10-25-2001, 11:43 PM
"For example: In my opinion, if a practitioner truly earns the rank of black belt in Shotokan, it will not be difficult for him to earn one in Isshinryu. Pretty much all he would need to do would be to learn the kata, lineage, history, and customs. He already has the skills."

Its true, I have black belts in a couple systems. They have different approaches, but basics are basics. Some are more fluid than others or specialize a certain area, but basically the same.

don bohrer
10-29-2001, 09:10 AM
Thank you for all the replies. I will consider everyones advice and continue training in American Kenpo for now. Someone once said the time to quit is not when your at the bottom of the doodoo pile but when your on top and feeling good about yourself. Now if I were only wearing my boots!

10-30-2001, 05:07 PM
I was in Shotokan for about a year. Here's what I learned.

Shotokan was a mid to long range style as it was taught to me. Being 5'3 made the system pretty difficult. Lots of really high kicks were stressed, which again put me at a disadvantage. This was my first martial art, so I didn't have any concept of any other techniques other than the same ones being taught to the 6 footers, which as usual were very long range or incorporated high kicks (arguably one of the worst combat techniques).

The good that came of my experience is that Shotokan is EXCELLENT for learning how to maximise power. Stance training is excellent also.

JuJitsu was taught along with Shotokan. Jujitsu is a beautiful system for self defense.

My experience may not be the same as others, I'm just sharing how I felt about the art.


10-31-2001, 09:08 PM
High-kicks in shotokan? Maybe in some of the higher level katas, sure, but not in the basic techniques, not at all. Nor are they stressed as important requirements to the style.

Sounds like you were in a dojo (read: instructor) that didn't know how to teach fundamental shotokan. Or someplace that was giving you a fusion of styles and they just called it "shotokan" for marketing purposes...?

K. Mark Hoover

11-01-2001, 02:48 PM
Budokan that is very probable. :D