Shotokan is a discipline of martial arts representing a synthesis of Okinawan karate styles. In so doing, it became karate-do, literally the “way of karate,” or of the empty hand. Because of this, training in karate-do is an education for life itself.
The founder of Shotokan, Gichin Funakoshi, said that “mind and technique are to become one in true karate.” We strive to make our physical techniques pure expressions of our mind’s intention, and to improve our mind’s focus by understanding the essence of the physical techniques. By polishing our karate practice, we are polishing our own spirit or our own 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 Tsutomu Ohshima, founder of Shotokan Karate of America, has put it, “We must be strong enough to express our true minds to any opponent, anytime, in any circumstance. We must be calm enough to express ourselves humbly.”