The most widely taught style of karate in the world
Shotokan karate was developed in Okinawa, Japan, from various forms of martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi in the early 1900s.
Although a relative newcomer as a distinct style, its ancestry can be charted through more than a thousand years of constant evolution.
Today, it is one of four main traditional styles of karate and is by far the most widely practised around the world. It is routinely taught as part of the curriculum in Japanese schools.
You can read a more complete history of Shotokan karate on the excellent website, The Shotokan Way.
The study of karate falls into three broad categories.
Kihon: learning the 'basics': punches, blocks, kicks and stances. Practising the basics will form part of your training for as long as you are a student of karate. Even the Grand Masters practise their basics.
Kata: a series of moves put together from the basic moves learned in kihon. There is a different kata to study at every coloured-belt level and 26 katas in total. Find out more about Shotokan katas here.
Kumite: Sparring with an opponent (don't worry - in training, this is done in a very controlled and safe setting).
The core philosophy - or niju kun - of Shotokan karate was set out by Ginchin Funakoshi in a book, published in 1938, called "The 20 Guiding Principles of Karate".
Master Gichin Funakoshi: 1868-1907
Master Funakoshi's "Tekki"
The "father" of Shotokan karate