What's the difference between Shotokai and Shotokan

Discussion in 'Karate' started by TonyMc, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. TonyMc

    TonyMc Valued Member


    I have previously trained in Shotokan - but my work colleague is starting to train in Shotokai.

    Out of curiosity - can anyone tell me the difference between these styles. I have noted that Shotokai has fewer grades - does this mean it doesn't take so long to progress up the ranking system?

    many thanks
  2. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    They are as different as chalk and cheese. :) How long it takes to go up the ranking system will depend upon your colleague's ability and the amount they train, so fewer grades does not necessarily mean a 'quicker' or easier Dan grade.

    For the record a Shodan in one association is not the same as a Shodan in another association, let alone another style. It's just a polite lie we tell ourselves. Any grade you have has no meaning outside your association and its parent body and shouldn't mean anything to anyone except you. :)
  3. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    ^^^^This should be stickied somewhere and referenced when ever someone tries to claim X group is better than Y for political reasons.
  4. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    At a guess - not as a practitioner of either style - I'd say one of the chief differences is in kime. Shotokai have a very different idea on the subject to what you see in Shotokan.

  5. Th0mas

    Th0mas Valued Member

    just to add to what Mike says...

    The Shotokan way, in terms of its "standard model" for training and the priorities it gives on certain techniques and combat strategies, to a lesser or greater extent, is based on a stylised abstraction of what a conflict or self defense situation is like in real life.

    Shotokai extends that abstraction even further.
  6. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    That doesn't sound like high praise of either.
  7. robertmap

    robertmap Valued Member

    Did 6 months (1 session a week) of Shotokai - some years ago - interesting style - very good at distancing training. NOT SURE WHAT ELSE - DIDN'T DO MUCH ELSE IN CLASS !!!
  8. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I don't know about that. To paraphrase Ap Oweyn, all martial arts are an abstraction of real combat. The only difference is where you abstract and how far.
  9. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Interesting, could you elaborate?

  10. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    What's the difference between Shotokai and Shotokan?

    The "i" or "n" at the end....

    @ robertmap, may I ask why only 6 months?
  11. Th0mas

    Th0mas Valued Member

    To Mike and Moosey et al.

    Moosey put his finger on it. All Martial Arts training has to be an abstraction because otherwise you wouldn't keep any training partners and you'd develop an unhealthy relationship with the criminal justice fraternity. Whats important is the context, obviously and being clear about what your learning goals are and ensuring the sacrifices you make for training expediency don't impact on those goals.

    So over time these abstractions can affect a whole range of things in terms of training priorities and training emphasis. Modern Shotokan ( or what Shotokan became ) was heavily influenced by Kendo and the desire to create a healthy-pastime-through-sporting-endeavors. It moved away from an effective, short ranged, brutal, civilian self-defence roots and focused on 1-on-1 dueling based on the long range kendo-style one-hit-one-kill concept. This obviously changes the effectiveness of certain techniques. so for example at long range, blocking and countering becomes a viable tactic, Tai sabaki is more effective etc

    Shotokai was an offshoot of Shotokan. Egami, it's founder took it down a different route, a more "spiritual life affirming" path.

    A quote from Egami " ...[whilst some with] the objective of understanding the soul of the Orient as a means of counteracting the impasse arising from materialistic civilization, place emphasis on the spiritual side of karate, the sad truth is that many styles teach only the fighting art and neglect the spiritual aspects.."

    Also Egami rejected the sporting aspects of shotokan, which meant there was little pressure testing of technique, resulting in development and adaption away from effective fighting technique, even at sporting long range. Shotokai has extended the attacking ranges beyond even kendo-influenced shotokan. The main attack is a sliding oi-tzuki with a "pushing Kimae", infact all aspects of Shotokai Technique seem to be infused with this "pushing Kimae".

    Essentially this emphasis on the more "spiritual" side of shotokai karate is an additional abstraction - which has further distanced Shotokai from karate's pragmatic self-protection origins... and if I want to be brutally honest Shotokai has become more Art than Martial.
  12. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    When Funakoshi died in 1957, the JKA and Shotokai were the two groups that split off. Shotokai continued to do things the Funakoshi way (not placing any value judgment on that, positive or negative), sticking with only the kata he taught, rejecting sport competition, and looking at karate as a means of "self-improvement" instead of a pragmatic fighting style. The JKA maintained some of that Funakoshi dogma, but to a lesser degree, also introducing additional kata, sport competition, and a greater emphasis on fighting utility.

    All that said, whether a particular dojo focuses on fighting utility or abstracted "self-improvement" has more to do with the instructor at that dojo than the organizational affiliation. I've trained at JKA dojos that fit closer to the description I just gave of Shotokai.
  13. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    "Shotokai continued to do things the Funakoshi way"

    except insofar as technique goes. egami ran off with the techniques, did some weird things with them behind the bushes and came back with the offspring, which is... peculiar. not bad, per se, but definitely very strange if viewed through the lens of classical karate (taking into account okinawan styles et al).

    and THEN there's the whole spirituality aspect, which i believe in egami's case nearly went the way of aikido when ueshiba got involved with the omotokyo (interestingly, another early shotokan guy, okuyama tadao, was involved both with the shotokai, by being an absolute karate monster whom egami took a lot of influence from, and with the omotokyo by being bodyguard to the head of the group, according to an interview with taiji kase).

    this bears posting: [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad6bdqsFG5M"]Maître Shigeru Egami (Shotokai) - Stage au Japon - YouTube[/ame]

    otoh, modern shotokai from what little i've seen seems basically a peculiar and very relaxed shotokan. i personally prefer the standard way of doing things, tempered with understanding what one is doing, but that's only my personal preference (and my own karate is not terribly standard anyway). IMO there are already styles that do better what shotokai seems to try to do (xingyiquan, for example).
  14. Giant Sea Panda

    Giant Sea Panda Valued Member

    Have to admit to not having done any of either but Shotokan is more stop-start and Shotokai is more fluid in it's movement.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGb-jQVjOSg"]Heian Yondan Shoto-kai Karate Do Kata - YouTube[/ame]

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrAiTCcatbY"]Heian Yondan - Shotokan Karate - YouTube[/ame]

    Absolutely fascinating to see such wildly different approaches to what is (or was) the same system!
  15. Renegade80

    Renegade80 Valued Member

    The Shotokai aim to create aikido like fluidity both in their technique and in their combat resolution methods. Unfortunately they came to this path after the Shotokan on which they were based was elongated into a long ranged, power focussed method. This meant that the more close ranged push hands centred methods of Chinese internal arts that would've been a natural evolution of older model Shotokan were missed and more unique methods adopted.

    The modern Shotokan style was designed around destroying the opponent with a single blow, creating a much more staccato technique, focussed on smashing (as opposed to shotokai's piercing/projecting emphasis).

    Personally I feel the two methods complement each other and mastery of one should lead to the study of the other.
  16. Heraclius

    Heraclius BASILEVS Supporter

    Interesting. Do you have experience with either/both of these arts?
  17. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Interesting idea,but as even a close range system with very obvious Chinese influences such as Okinawan GoJu has never developed anything close to what's entailed in the various push hands methods it seems extremely unlikely that old Shotokan would have a natural evolution towards such practices. Even if it had taken such a turn I'm thinking without knowledge from the outside it would be a long,long evolution in finding and training the body methods "internal" systems utilize.

    So,I'm curious.Taking into account the lack of these methods on Okinawa- (even GoJu's Hsing I looking push hands type exercises are miles away from what "internal" systems do)- what factors do you feel would have led Shotokan in this direction?
  18. hatsie

    hatsie Active Member Supporter

    Wow I thought the bujinkan had the monopoly on the lunge punch, these guys do it on pretend Ice :D
  19. MaxSmith

    MaxSmith Valued Member

    The booj trademark only covers fat white guys. Everyone else is fair game :ban:
  20. Jagunco

    Jagunco New Member

    I did Shotokai for a long time. then sickened and buggered off to do capoeira.

    I cross trained a lot while doing shotokai and I have to say that as the years progressed the style deteriorated badly.. and I mean badly.

    it started with a lot of good points. A lot of emphasis put on fitness and attitude, and as my friend above said, with fluidity. Unfortunately over the years Shotokai fell into the trap of wanting to look clever.

    People started changing this and that when they really shouldn't and somewhere down the road someone thought it was a great idea to practice walking exactly two arm lengths away from someone, the theory being that this was a great position of defence and hey ho all of a sudden you could literally be walking up and down the dojo for over an hour just so you knew instinctively where that distance was.

    I assume they still do it because I nipped back a few years ago to see what the training was like and there was two black belts doing it in the corner.

    Good points used to be the kata, it is the best kata that I've done. Good body conditioning, good spacial awareness

    The conditioning for the body was excellent, though hampered by a lack of pad work you tended to be able to deliver a good strike

    bad points... well

    .... for some reason they feel punching pads makes your punches worse (?)
    .... Distance work... enough said
    .... Abstract training... a lot of the new ideas about karate and how to make it more effective thought up by a lot of people who had never been in a fight in their lives, this seemed to generate in several hours of ones life that you'd never get back. The worst one was the NLP course, but thank Christ that didn't last long
    .... Never any reality application training from what I could see, no pressure testing of any kind

    Got to admit that I can only speak for the group I trained with and not others that practice Shotokai.

    I can't say anything about Shotokan as I never did it

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