An international academy of senior Shotokan karate-ka

Gichin FunakoshiGichin Funakoshi once said: ”To search for the old is to understand the new. The old, the new, this is a matter of time. In all things man must have a clear mind. The Way: Who will pass it on straight and well?”

As each year unfolds the dilution of karate from a martial art to a sport is becoming more apparent. The once coveted Dan grade is becoming cheapened by karate-ka who seem more interested in finances than standards. It is therefore apparent that the traditional ways are being lost and with them the respect, honour and hard training which epitomises the budo/bushido aspect of our art. It is up to those with an interest in our style to ensure that Shotokan-ryu continues to maintain its classical and traditional roots worldwide.

For many years, discussions relating to these negative changes and their effects on Shotokan karate, have taken place. Some like-minded, senior international instructors decided that an apolitical, Shotokan Academy of Excellence, which would also act as an international certificating agency, should be set up. The Kokusai Shotokan-ryu Karate-do Shihankai (ISKS) was inaugurated in June 2004. It is therefore the Shihankai‒s belief that a true Shotokan karate-ka must be of profound qualities of spirit while striving for excellence in everything he/she does. This reflects the dedication and discipline to allow continual practice and growth in a martial art. They must have high skills in combat but also the moral attributes to follow the set of obligations and etiquette that help establish order, not only in the Shotokan dojo, but in their life and society in general.

To do this the 7 virtues of budo/bushido should followed. These are: jin (benevolence), gi (honour and justice), rei (courtesy and etiquette), chi (wisdom, intelligence), shin (sincerity), chu (loyalty), and koh (piety).

Those individuals who are in fellowship of the ISKS maintain a behaviour, which reflects that they value standards, honour, etiquette and tradition. Their many years of study in and dedication to, Shotokan karate as a martial art, are reflected in the character of the individual and in their approach to training, where the concept of Budo is paramount and all nationalities would be treated on an equal footing. It is through the auspices of such individuals that the ISKS Council of Saiko-shihan was founded. The ISKS therefore firmly believe that it is an honour to be invited or recommended to join those ranks but an even greater honour to be accepted into fellowship. In summary, the Shihankai by accepting through recommendation only those senior international Shotokan karateka who are known to us will ensure that our standards are maintained with ’a clear mind’. We will therefore pass on to future generations, through the values and teachings of its fellows, the great legacy that O sensei Funakoshi left to us and we will do it ‘straight and well’.

Don Owens 9th Dan Hanshi, ISKS President