Wrekin Shotokan Karate Club
Gichin Funakoshi
Masatoshi Nakayama
Hirokazu Kanazawa.
Modern Shotokan Karate.
Post World War 2 Shotokan development.

After World War II the Funakoshi Shotokan style of karate effectively split into two factions, Shotokai, which is an anti sport and competition Shotokan style association, and the style now widely known and accepted as Shotokan which was developed further by the J.K.A.

In the 1950s the JKA embarked upon a plan of spreading karate world-wide, instigated by Funikoshi. After his death the JKA, headed by Sensei Nakayama continued to research and develop Shotokan Karate, as well as to promote the competition and sport element of the style. This aspect was the primary reason for its success as competition and sport are prime motivators for many people. The style known today as Shotokan could be more appropriately called JKA Shotokan Karate. The instructors training program was developed which produced numerous qualified senior Karate-ka, many of which were posted around the world to set up schools and teach Shotokan.

Many of the instructors remained in these countries, Teriyuki Okazaki in Philadelphia, Taiji Kase in France, Hiroshi Shirai in Italy, Hidetaka Nishiyama in Los Angeles, Keinosuke Enoeda and Hanshi Shiro Asano in England to name but a few.

The policy of training instructors and continuing to send them around the world, together with the union of the martial art and the sport aspect into the style is probably the reason why JKA Shotokan Karate is the most popular style of Karate, and why it spread so rapidly in the 60's onwards. Other styles of Martial Art have followed in its wake, some of the most successful being the styles that like JKA Shotokan have a strong sports and competition aspect (Tae Kwon Do springs to mind, a Korean offspring of Karate).

The large size of the JKA (10 million plus in over 155 countries) led to problems in the 1970's. Political and technical issues resulted in several senior karate-ka breaking away from the JKA. The most well known being Sensei Kanazawa; in 1977 he left to form Shotokan Karate International (SKI), which is now the largest Shotokan organisation in the world with over 3.5 million members in over 120 countries.

In the 1980's several other prominent karate-ka left the JKA. However after the death of Sensei Nakayama in 1987, with no thought out succession planning, the resultant political instability led to infighting and the JKA broke up.

As a consequence the Japan Karate Association has given birth to numerous organizations, some having affiliations to the JKA, many who no longer wish to affiliate, and those who follow the JKA syllabus and/or the JKA Shotokan Karate style and have never affiliated. Many individual independent clubs and small associations fall into the latter, affiliating themselves directly to nationally recognised sporting bodies.

Remember that to Funakoshi the prevalence of divergent schools of karate was a serous problem, and he believed it would have a deleterious effect on the future development of the art. Funakoshi objected strongly to the classification of him and his colleagues as the Shoto-kan school, saying that there is no place in contemporary Karate-do for different schools. His belief was that all "schools" should be amalgamated into one so that Karate-Do may pursue an orderly and useful progress into man's future. However his approach has spawned the style widely classified as Shotokan and it could be argued that there is only one main school of Shotokan karate and that is the JKA style Shotokan Karate.

With the continuing development of Shotokan Karate, and the sharing of ideas across the different governing bodies, in all forms of Karate, Shotokan should enable its benefits to be made accessible to all. Bringing together people through competition whilst developing the martial art and sharing ideas, Karate-Do may well pursue an orderly and useful progress into man's future, keeping Funakoshi happy and content in his grave!

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