Karate is a Martial Art. Karate, meaning "empty hand", was developed hundreds of years ago as a means of unarmed self-defense. It is an unarmed form of self-defense where the different parts of the body are used as weapons. True karate is based on Bushido (the way of the warrior). In true karate, the body, mind and spirit—the whole person—must be developed simultaneously. Through kihon (basics), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) we learn to control our movements. But more importantly, we learn to give up control too. We can perform the techniques without thinking about them, and remain focused without having to concentrate on any one thing. In essence, the body remembers how to move and the mind remembers how to be still.
This harmonious unity of mind and body is intensely powerful. Even the greatest physical strength and skill are no match for the power of wholeness.
The result of true karate is natural, effortless action, and the confidence, humility, openness and peace only possible through perfect unity of mind and body.
In the late 1800's Grand Master Gichin Funakoshi adapted what he had learned from a variety of other Martial Arts into his own style of karate. Master Funakoshi never gave this style a name, simply calling it karate-do. The name Shotokan was the name of Master Funakoshi's first official dojo (school) that his students named in his honor. 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". As karate became more popular outside of Japan, many adopted Master Funakoshi's school name as their style of karate, Shotokan.
Master Funakoshi developed principles that allude to notions of humility, respect, compassion, patience and both an inward and outward calmness. This lead Master Funakoshi to develop the Dojo Kun, or the school percepts. It was Master Funakoshi's belief that through karate practice and observation of these principles, the karateka would improve the person both in physical and inner nature.
The Dojo Kun lists five philosophical rules for training in the dojo: to seek perfection of character, be faithful, endeavor to excel, respect others, and refrain from violent behavior. At Shotokan Karate of West GA, the Dojo Kun is recited at the beginning and end of each class to provide motivation and a context for further training.
Master Funakoshi wrote, "The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character
of its participant."
It is the goal of Shotokan Karate of West GA to carry on Master Funakoshi's philosophy and provide each student with
an opportunity to perfect themselves from the inside out.