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Shotokan Karate Handbook: Introduction

Unfortunately fighting is as old as man himself. This struggle to overcome one's adversary has been handled down from our forefathers. Take a look at our known history, read the Bible or any other literary works and you will see that man's inhumanity to man has been around a long time. This quest for domination sowed the seeds for a fighting art.

The term 'martial arts' simply means arts concerned with the waging of war. Many of the martial arts, including karate, were developed from ancient war skills. In time, this search for a deeper meaning to life led to the development of a higher level of fighting. Ultimately, the old martial ways were used to cultivate man's understanding of himself.

This paradox of learning a lethal skill and along the way transcending the violent aims of that skill to become a human being with superior qualities in both mind and body, is perhaps best summed up this Chinese proverb, 'He who overcomes others is strong. He who overcomes himself is mighty'.

The martial arts of the Orient are shrouded in mystery and tradition. Each country developed its own fighting system through trial and error, before honing them to perfection. Religion too played an important role.

With the exception of Judo, the introduction of the various martial arts to western society, including the United States took place after World War II. In 1882, Jigoro Kano a Japanese educator developed the sport of Judo. Some twenty-one (21) years later in 1903 a judo demonstration was given in the White House for President Theodore Roosevelt. Eight years after the end of World War II, General Curtis LeMay, then commander of the United States Air Force, established a four (4) months judo and karate instructional program for our military personnel. The key part of General LeMay's program was inviting a number of judo and karate instructors from the Kudokan and the Japan Karate Association (JKA) to the United States in order to provide instruction and coaching for his military personnel. This Strategic Air Force (SAC) developed program was responsible for opening up communication between Japan and the United States, accounting for the migration of dozens of Japanese karate instructors to our country. Other contributing influences in the late 1960's and early 70s were kung fu movies and growing violence in the streets. Thus a new era for these old fighting skills of the Orient had begun.

It is your instructor's hope that everyone who participate in this course will take with them a better understanding on how the art of traditional Japanese karate developed into a self-defense art that has sporting aspects, while at the same time lowers stress, increasing self-confidence and improving one's physical fitness.

"The ultimate aim of the art of karate-do lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants." - Gichin Funakoshi

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