Shotokan Karate History
Shotokan, a prominent style of karate, has a rich history deeply intertwined with the life and teachings of its founder, Gichin Funakoshi. Born in 1868 in Okinawa, Funakoshi is often credited with introducing karate to mainland Japan.
Gichin Funakoshi’s journey began in Okinawa, where he studied various Okinawan martial arts, including Shuri-te and Shorei-ryu. In 1922, he was invited to demonstrate karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo, a pivotal moment that marked the formal introduction of karate to the Japanese mainland. This event garnered significant attention, and Funakoshi decided to remain in Japan to further promote and teach karate.
Establishing the Shotokan dojo in Tokyo in 1936, Funakoshi named it after his pen name “Shoto” and “kan” meaning training hall. The philosophy of Shotokan emphasized the development of character, humility, and the pursuit of perfection through disciplined training.
One of Funakoshi’s notable students was Masatoshi Nakayama, who became a key figure in the development and spread of Shotokan karate. Nakayama played a crucial role in systematizing Shotokan techniques and introduced the concept of kumite (sparring) as a formalized practice.
Following World War II, American servicemen stationed in Japan, such as Robert Trias and Hidetaka Nishiyama, became some of the earliest students to bring Shotokan back to the United States. Trias, often referred to as the “Father of American Karate,” played a pivotal role in popularizing karate in the U.S., and his teachings were influenced by the Shotokan style.
The dissemination of Shotokan karate continued with other notable instructors like Tsutomu Ohshima, who founded the first university karate club in the United States at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1957. Ohshima Sensei was a direct student of Gichin Funakoshi and played a crucial role in spreading Shotokan throughout North America.
Today, Shotokan is one of the most widely practiced styles of karate worldwide, with dojos spanning continents. Its journey from the shores of Okinawa to the training halls of Japan and eventually to the United States is a testament to the enduring legacy of Gichin Funakoshi and the dedicated efforts of his students to share the art and philosophy of Shotokan karate.
Shotokan Karate-Do ( From Left to Right )
Shotokan Meaning “ Pine Hall” and Karate Do defined as “ The Empty Handed Way”. This art work is the Kanji ( Japanese Calligraphy ) associated with our styles history. It is a small look of what our history is about, and though we don’t emphasize heavily in our martial arts school it is still an important part of Shotokan history that we share with our students at Ageless Martial Arts.
Sensei Lorenzo’s Origin Story
The Instructors he trained under and his Journey
Hey Lorenzo here,
Let me give you some insight into how not only the history of Shotokan Karate and what came later to our martial arts school. I first want to be very grateful to the teachers and people that I have trained with and I feel extremely lucky to those who taught me and showed me the martial way. As a Las Vegas born and raised native, many of training was here in my home town Las Vegas. I was a teenager at the time when I started about 13 years old. My mother who as a UMC nurse in this town, was always working and wanted to keep me busy and make sure I would stay out of trouble. I also was never a fan of sports, nor did I like group activities and I was obsessed with Japanese culture and its influences.
James Tawato ( Ozawa Dojo )
As my mother remarried, and we had a step father had a brother who was also my step uncle. Armando Alcantara who was a 3rd Dan / Degree Black belt in Shotokan Karate, he was a dedicates student of Master Osuma Ozawa who was the founder of the Las Vegas School of Shotokan Karate. My uncle would later become one of Ozawas most dedicated students of that Karate school. I trained with the head instructor there named James Tawato who did the majority of training.
(Ozawa Black Belts Near Valley of Fire)
Dan Sawyer (Mahato Karate)
I trained with a former WW2 Veteran who was at the battle of Normandy, and was a exceptional role model for me to learn martial arts from. I trained with Master Sawyer for about 2 years, as I learned the art of Shorin-Ryu. He had huge mansion in the older part of vegas where he trained me in his backyard, similar to karate kid. It was a very unique life style and I got to live a karate kid like movie with a real Mr. Miaygi. He passed away and I was sadden to hear he was gone but his lessons still ring in my head as a instructor and I always here his voice when I am struggling with my day. I will never forget him and his lessons carry me where I am today. I miss you Master Dan.
After some time, I decided I wanted and dreamed of being a karate champion so I tried my luck in being a karate competitor. I had dreams of being a USA athlete representing the USA karate team. For many years I devoted my study to competition karate under Hiroshi Allen. Who I spent many years with dedicated myself and being a competitor in the WKF circuit. I was grateful for the opportunity as I learned many things that made me love Karate even more. Eventually falling in love with Shotokan through the years. Getting a Dojo black belt with him.
I won a few small tittles, National championship, World Championship with FSKA, and other ones around the world. I never made the big leagues though, but I was happy with how far I got and Im glad karate stayed in my life. Hiroshi was a obsessed technician and a strategiest who always looked at the best strategies to win, and I always admired him for that.
As I got older with the karate school I knew I had to continue my studies so Catalin was there for my first black belt exam. I trained hard and I eventually got my 2nd and 3rd Dan under him. In is hay day Sensei Catalin was amazing. As a kid he broke many ribs of fighters and was an exceptional athlete. He also had a killer lead round that could snap you in half and was a karate champion who taught me how to have tough skin.
Tokey Hill ( World Champion )
From time to time, I visit the world champion in Ohio. I train under Shihan Tokey Hill who was a world champion. I later eventually got a Black Belt from him for all the hard work Ive done under the Hill Federation and working with him through the years. It has been a childhood dream of mine to finally be under a great Master. In the karate world he was the very first American to win the World Championships in Madrid Spain in 1980 and eventually also became one of the United States best fighting coaches for both Karate, Boxing and K1, working with fighters like Mike Tyson as a promoter, and a decorated resume. I am very proud to call him one of my teachers in the martial arts. He know lives in a very small town called Chillcothe Ohio, where he is from. Its very hard to get too, and its very unique place to see. I try to visit a couple times out of the year to learn from him and how I can better myself as instructor both in mindset and in Journey. Tokey has taught me how to stay on my feet, have a good attitude, be tough and have personality that is playful but strong. This man still remains as one of my heros to this day. His personality is both magnetic and life learning.
Professor Gary Lee ( Sports Karate History Museum )
As I got older I was offered a position under the Sport Karate history museum. I tested under this organization and it was a very difficult task. I will blame and say I could have been more prepared for the exam they gave me for my 4th degree black belt. I humbly accepted the offer and through brutal bare knuckle fighting I eventually passed this exam attaining my 4th degree black belt. I tested under several martial arts masters about 30 people in attendance. I did my best and it was a brutal few hours. I eventually got my 5th degree black belt, and I am happy I got this certificate.
Ageless Martial Arts Brief History
We started on a high school track with only 1 student. Eventually growing the school into many members who enjoy the art and the school. We also started at the rec center as well as we had feeder programs. Through my experience with running schools and other things we founded the school in 2010. First naming it Ageless Shotokan Karate, then Ageless Karate, then re branding finally to Ageless Martial Arts. We started with small spaces eventually going into bigger spaces as we grew.