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A Short Shotokan Legends Video

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I pray that each of you is healthy and keeping safe during these interesting times.  Hopefully, you have the time and inclination to continue some form of practice at home; probably one of the most important for us, ahem, older folks is stretching.  We all know that muscle mass is gradually lost each year once we reach our forties.  However, there is an accompanying decline in flexibility and elasticity of one’s muscles and ligaments.  Personally, I spend 15-20 minutes early each morning stretching out my aging body.  Whenever we do emerge from the COVID19 cloud and can safely/comfortably recommence practice, a hidden condition that must be managed is the flexibility of your muscles.  A single stiff tendon or ligament can sideline you from further practice.  Typically, stiff and vulnerable ligaments don’t show up until you execute a technique – and karate techniques require a lot more from one’s body than regular walking.  So please take a few minutes to stretch out each day….a little goes a long way. I came across this nice little video containing pics and short descriptions of whom the director considers to be the legends of Shotokan Karate.  It was compiled by a karateka in….India, no [...]

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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 [...]