International Federation of Funakoshi Shotokan South Africa


Founder Of Shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi


Gichin Funakoshi., known as the founder of shotokan and modern karate, was a professor at the Okinawa Teachers College in Japan and President of Okinawa Association of Martial Arts. In 1922 he was invited to lecture and demonstrate the new art of karate at the first National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo.
The demonstration turned out to be a great success due to the inspiring personality of Master Funakoshi and he was flooded with requests until he was able to establish the Shotokan, in 1936, which became a great landmark in the history of karate.

He studied under Shuri- Te Master Anko Itosu and under Yasutsune Azato. Funakoshi Sensei was not only a genius in martial arts but also a literary talent and signed his work “Shoto” his pen name. Hence, the school where he taught came to be known as “Shoto’s school” or “Shotokan”.
He combined the techniques and Kata of the two major Okinawa style to form his own style of karate. As a result modern day shotokan includes the powerful techniques of the Shorei School and the lighter, more flexible movements of the Shorin School. When the J.K.A was established in 1949, Gichin Funakoshi was appointed as the Chief instructor due to advanced skills and leadership abilities. Although Funakoshi Sensei was famous as a great karate Master, he always emphasized that the most important benefit from karate training is the development of spiritual values and the perfection of character of its participants. After training and teaching of karate for more than 75 year, Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of 88.

Note: Funakoshi sincerely believed it would take a lifetime to master enough. He chose the Kata which were best suited for physical stress. A belief that karate was an art rather than a sport. To him Kata was “Kara”.

“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants” – Gichin Funakoshi


What is Karate

“True Karate is this: that in daily life ones mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility and that in critical times one can be devoted utterly to the cause of justice:- Gichin Funakoshi.

Karate can also be described as a martial art or fighting method involving a variety of techniques including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, and joint manipulation, Karate practice is divided into three aspects – Kihon(basic), kata(forms), and Kumite(sparring).

The word KARATE is a combination of two Japanese characters: “Kara” meaning empty and “te” meaning hand, thus karate meaning “empty hand”. Adding the suffix “Do” (pronounced ‘doe’) meaning ‘way’, i.e. karate- do implies karate a total way of life that goes well beyond the self - defense applications.

In traditional karate-do we always keep in mind that the true opponent is oneself. Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi has said that the mind and technique become one in true karate. We strive to make our physical techniques pure expressions of our minds intention and to improve our minds focus by understanding the essence of the physical techniques. By polishing our karate practice we are polishing our own spirit or our own spirit mentality for example, eliminating weak and indecisive movements in our karate helps to eliminate weakness and indecision in our minds- and vice versa.

It is in this sense that karate becomes a way of life, as we try to become very strong but happy and peaceful people. As Kenneth Funakoshi (Chief Instructor of FSKA) has put it,
“We must be strong enough to express our true minds to any opponent, anytime, in any circumstances. We must be calm enough to express ourselves humbly”

One of the unique features of karate training in IFFSKSA “face ourselves” and polish our mentality or spirit”.