The style of karate studied at Manchester Budokan karate club is called Shotokan. Shotokan was developed from the teachings of Gichin Funakoshi, who studied in Okinawa and was one of the pioneers who brought Karate to Japan. It is known for its strong and deep stances and its powerful techniques. Although generally considered to be a long-range style, its Kata contain a variety of close range techniques.
Shotokan has constantly been evolving since its early days. Early photographs of Funakoshi, for example, show him adopting very short stances. His son, Giko, was responsible for lengthening the stances and for developing the sidekick and roundhouse kick.
When Karate first reached Britain it was practised as a traditional
style with traditional Japanese values. Gradually the sporting element assumed
a greater and greater importance as the art developed in line with Western
tastes. We have chosen not to follow this path and instead to study the older
combative disciplines that were prevalent here in the 1960s and 1970s.
We do not teach sports karate. When karate was first developed as a sport, many of its most effective techniques were discarded. This was essential for safety. However, it is precisely these techniques that we as a self defence club wish to study.
We have found that some sports clubs regard some of the older traditions, for example study of kata, as of little or no use. Whilst this may be true from the point of view of a sports karateka, we regard them as worth studying and researching, both from the point of view of their effectiveness for self defence and for their own sake. We have found the rewards to be greater still and have found the study of such skills as aiki-no-jutsu and hara-gei to be a life-enhancing activity; whilst skills like kyushu-jutsu which could never be included in a sports syllabus, because they are too dangerous, yield highly effective fighting techniques and reveal new meanings in kata.
In order to increase our effectiveness as well as to increase our understanding it is necessary also to look at other styles and arts. We do not subscribe to the view that what we know is best and that nobody has anything to teach us. On the contrary, as well as researching into the traditions of our own art we are always keen to see what others find effective, both with and without weapons. To that end our instructors have studied with teachers not only of other styles of karate, but also of other Japanese arts such as judo, aikido and iai-do, in addition to studying and attending courses on a variety of Chinese martial arts. We are always looking for new horizons and welcome approaches from martial artists who wish to share knowledge.