Shotokai Karate-do technical description

Old technique abolished by
O-sensei and Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi
Shigeru Egami sensei comments:

“In the old front stance, the rear leg was kept straight, and the navel was pointed squarely at the opponent (see photo). The stance was very cramped; eventually it was abolished as a result of discussions between Master Funakoshi and his son Gigo. However many karate-ka still adhere to and practice this old form. And while it is not practical, it will enable one to strengthen his ankles. From this point of view, it may be a good idea to practice it. “The Way of Karate, Beyond technique.”

The old technique was therefore very tense, there was furthermore tension and contraction in the lower leg and ankle together with the hips and upper body. Today this technique is natural and relaxed. These changes were furthermore guided by the basic philosophical premises that movements must be fluid and penetrate through the objective.

Technique today (Sensei Tomoji Miyamoto)
This resulted in a modification of the knee position and the feet respect to each other. Parasite movements while advancing were eliminated. In the olden days feet traced a half-moon trajectory, this results in a perpendicular movement with respect to the advancing movement. As a result of this movement energy is wasted and blows would arrive even weaker to the objective. In Shotokai the feet move in a straight trajectory with a complete projection of the energy to the objective (see diagrams).

The position in itself is described as follows: the largest portion of the body weight is on the front leg, approximately 70% on the front leg and 30% on the back leg. Heels are inline with advanced students and the distance between the heel axis of the front foot respect that of the back foot is 4 and 6 inches in beginners. The distance between the feet in the longitudinal direction will vary between karate-ka due to the length of their legs but in general it can be said to correspond to aprox. 60% of the karate-ka’s height. The front foot is pointing straight forward or slightly to the outside.

The up-to-date way of advancing
(free of parasite movements)
The back foot is perpendicular to the movement and if possible it points a bit forward. Both feet must be placed well on the floor, with no section lifted off the ground (except the normal arch of the foot). If there is some part of the foot off the ground the position is surely badly done or the position too low for the karate-ka’s level. Front knee is bent deeply, foot and knee in the same plane and perpendicular to the ground, the front knee must not fall inwards (this will end up hurting the knee). Upper leg must be parallel to the ground, knee placed exactly over the big toe of the foot. Back foot is also bent, when a plane is imagined it includes the femur joint, the corresponding knee and the foot all fall within it. This means your knee is bent and pointing outward not downward. This last point is very important, you must avoid that your knee fall in the direction of the floor in static positions and very importantly never when advancing, if not it will just be a matter of time before your knee will be injured. The upper body in the past was tense and pointed directly toward the opponent, the shoulders perpendicular to the movement. Now the body is in the hanmi position

The old way of advancing
still practiced by some.
that is half facing position, 45 degrees with respect to the legs and in a relaxed position.

The backbone must be straight at every moment, perpendicular to the floor and shall not be inclined in any direction.

While advancing you must NEVER fall on your heels! The advance is explained graphically in an animation here on our site. First you go through nekoashi-dachi, then kokutsu-dachi, then fudo-dachi and finally zenkutsu-dachi in the contrary position.
July 19th, 1998