Shotokan (松濤館) is a Japanese martial arts. It belongs to the fighting and self-defense system Karate (空手). Karate itself has been developed on the islands of Okinawa. According to the famous karate blogger, Jesse Enkamp, Shotokan is the “world´s most popular style” of Karate.

Shotokan Kanji together with the Shotokan tiger.
“Shotokan” characters together with the Shotokan tiger.


Karateka execute all techniques from a variety of stances called tachi waza. Fighting on the ground and the application of an elaborated set of tosses and throws like in Judo, Aikido, and Wrestling is not part of the style. The focus lies on kicking, punching, and blocking. However, Shotokan karate knows also a couple of throwing techniques. Especially in bunkai and self-defense they can become vital elements. Therefore, some dojos prefer to practice them more often than others. In general it can be said that most of the Shotokan karateka prefer to face opponents in a standing position and from a leg length distance.

Tiger Sneaker

Origin of the Name

The name Shotokan derives from Gichin Funakoshi´s pen name and the Japanese term kan (館) which stance for hall or gym. As an author Funakoshi chose the name Shoto (松濤). That means: “waving pines”. According to the legend, his students put up a sign at his dojo that stated: Shoto-Kan.

Later, the students called the whole style after the dojo of Gichin Funakoshi.

For a history of Shotokan visit the main article History of Shotokan.

List of Authors:


Dr. Christian Tribowski