The four cornerstones.

The four building blocks.

As with anything of substance Shotokan karate is based on a strong foundation. Like a forty-two-story office building standing tall and proud, Shotokan karate is supported by four cornerstones, without which it might not have stood the test of time. These four building blocks are: a proper stance, proper posture, proper balance, and proper technique. Without these four fundamentals working in harmony with each other, equally weighted, and equally given their due, you will never be able to develop your karate to your full potential. 


Your stance is the platform upon which everything else is built. Shotokan more than any other style of karate is noted for its long low stances. When practiced correctly a proper stance is effective at promoting good stability, and fostering strong muscularity. Early on in your karate training you will quickly become aware that landing in a poor stance will adversely effect everything else.


From early childhood we have been told to sit up straight, stand up properly, keep our head up, and watch where we were going. Today how we walk down the street, sit in a business meeting, or sit with friends, says a lot about us. It is no different in the dojo. Good posture is always vital. Proper posture will create a strong vertical center making smooth, rapid movements possible, and effective. Used incorrectly you will quickly come to learn that poor posture equates to poor karate. 


Good balance like anything in life is the result of proper thought. In karate the moment you start to move from one stance to another, you are risking all that you have, in the hope of achieving something better. Balance however can never be achieved unless the scales are even. Your skills weighted on one side must be equally balanced by your mental side, since balance is the sum of all other things working together.


Technique is the concentrated focus off all of your thoughts, and actions in a specific purpose. No amount of strength, no amount of speed, and no amount of kiai, can ever make up for an ineffective technique. And nothing else will matter if your technique is not effective in dealing with an attack when it is needed.

Taken together these the four building blocks will lay a strong foundation upon which these rest of you karate can be structured. So, train hard, train often, and remember to honour the four building blocks whenever you are in the dojo.  

Remember: "A foundation is only as strong as the person who built it."