Is the Shotokan Tiger Inspired by Two Thousand Year Old Chinese Art?

In the past, I’ve written about the origin of Shotokan’s famous tiger symbol and the artist/karateka Kosugi Hoan, who designed it.  Recently, I came across an interesting article that fleshes a little more into what we already knew about how this tiger symbol originally graced Master Funakoshi’s first book, “Ryukyu Kempo: Tode”, way back in 1922. Now, of course, it can be found on our gi patches, on some of your sensei’s belts, on our website, and in thousands of Shotokan dojos throughout the world.  The article was on the Shorinjiryublog site, written by a Sensei Yuen.  I already suspected that the tiger had some Chinese influence since Japan doesn’t even have any tigers, but this article included a really neat side-by-side of our familiar Shotokan tiger with a Chinese plaque (over two thousand years old!). I found the resemblance to be remarkable – see what you think.

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