The Shotoism Rule

The founders of Shotokan changed many techniques and katas purely to make karate contests more dramatic. Then they told us it was all "traditional" and we should never change it.
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The Shotoism Rule

Postby HanshiClayton » Fri May 22, 2009 6:43 am

See the full list of "shotoism" articles: [url=

This section is based on a passage from Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition.

An “anachronism” is something that is misplaced in time. For instance, the Hollywood epic Spartacus contains scenes of ancient Romans wearing wristwatches and sneakers. Our katas have passed through many hands in the last century, and some of the moves we study were not present in the original kata. The moves introduced by Shotokan sensei are referred to as "Shotoisms."

Shotoism Rule: “Recent changes don’t have historical applications.”

There is no need to provide our students with interpretations of moves introduced by modern teachers. Modern changes disrupt the original meaning of the kata.

This rule places us under an obligation. It requires us to identify the kata anachronisms, and to discover the original technique of the historical kata. Then we have to find applications for the historical technique. That's what the "Perspective" topics are for in the individual kata forums.

One interesting application of Shotoisms is to look for them in the kata of other karate styles. For instance, tang su do and tae kwon do contain numerous shotoisms, even in kata that are allegedly thousands of years old from ancient China. Shotoisms are like genetic markers. They reveal parentage.

Several articles on this forum mention shotoisms. Use the "search" feature to find them. You'll be surprised.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
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