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

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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. the-famous-shotokan-tiger-symbol

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Our Long Break from Karate Training

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Well this has certainly been a long break from karate training for all of us, eh?  Recently, the state is beginning to reopen in phases, so there’s hope that sometime in the future (weeks? a month?) we’ll be able to train again, perhaps with new social distancing rules, with no kiaiing, and maybe masks -we’ll see. In looking forward to that day, I’ll bet that that returning to the dojo that first time, it’s going to feel strange putting the old karate gi on, lining up (6’ apart) and doing warmups.  I’m sure that everyone has gotten a little rusty during this time. Actually, on those few occasions that I’ve driven on the freeway at night, it felt almost like I was driving somewhere new.  As bad as this time seems, our mandatory break from training pales in comparison to a training break that happened to the art just as it was growing in Japan. From 1922-1941, the Founder’s karate classes had enjoyed increasing popularity and spread to universities throughout Japan.  Then, in 1941, something called World War II came along, which was to essentially shut down the master’s karate for years, and nearly lead to its dissipation. Descriptions about the beginning of the [...]

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Carrying on Asai Sensei’s Tradition

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Throughout his life, Asai Sensei studied and became proficient in many different martial arts.  Over time, as masters often do, he developed his own personal budo, or perhaps better described as bujutsu – focused on the most effective techniques to use in combat situations.  Meanwhile, as Chief Instructor of the JKA, he continued to teach the core Shotokan syllabus occasionally adding in certain techniques of his own, especially with advanced students. I think that you’ll find the video below interesting.  Andre Bertel a Shotokan instructor from New Zealand.  He gives seminars around the world and is a gifted karateka who is devoted to sharing the art.  If you watched the previous Asai Sensei video, I think that you’ll see his distinct influence on this young man.  Asai spent a lot of time conducting one-on-one training with Andre, sharing his particular flavor of budo.  Remember, these are controlled strikes and kicks, however the uke (the guy on the receiving end) needs to be ready and in good shape. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1rlSCxI7nU