The Tiger and the name.

The birth of the Shotokan symbol.

Shotokan Karate was founded by an Okinawan school teacher named Gichin Funakoshi, but it took its first breath of life in Japan. The first dojo of his own that he opened was in Zoshigaya, Toshima Ward, in the Spring of 1936.

The name Shotokan however, came about as a result of events that took place in Master Funakoshi's youth. As a young man he would often walk into the hills, and the pine forests, where he would often listen to the sound of the pine trees rustling when the wind blew. In his book, Karate-do, My Way of Life he says, "to me the murmur was a kind of celestial music. 

Today the name Shotokan Karate is recognized world wide. Along with its name our style is also identified by a symbol, a Tiger, surrounded by a circle. This design came about as the result of Master Funakoshi's meeting with the painter in Tokyo shortly after his arrival. His name was Hoan Kosugi, (1881 - 1964) in fact it was he who encouraged Master Funakoshi to write a reference book on the subject of karate-do. This ultimately led to his first book ever published on karate, "Ryukyu Kempo" it was published by Bukyosha, in 1922.

The irregular appearance of the circle around the Tiger suggests that Hoan Kosugi drew it free hand, and with one continuous stroke of his brush. As for the kanji found in the upper right hand corner, it is Hoan Kosugi's name. But why was the tiger selected if tigers themselves do not exist in Japan? While there are several theories there is a likely answer. In Japan a book like the one that Gichin Funakoshi had published in 1922 would be known as a, Tora no maki, or Tiger scroll.

Today regardless of how each of them came into being, both the name Shotokan, and Hoan Kosugi's Tiger, are symbolic of the most popular style of karate in the world. 

Remember: "The great virtues of karate are prudence, and humility."