Shotokan is the study of various punches, kicks, strikes, blocks, stances and body dynamics. Shotokan karate teaches relatively fewer techniques than other styles, adhering to the concept of teaching a thorough knowledge of a few techniques rather than aiming for superficial familiarity with numerous techniques.
Students first have to learn to hold strong stances and to snap punches without lifting the shoulders. After months of practice, students should be ready to integrate the stances with punching, kicking and blocking combinations. With each technique they combine breathing, timing, muscle control and momentum to produce the greatest speed and power of which he/she is capable.
Shotokan karate emphasizes two ideas in its system:
- Balance and muscle control in each movement
- A belief that proper study eliminates ego and promotes hard work, humility and excellence
Shotokan advocates advancement in technique rather than quantitative knowledge. For example, after a student practises reverse punches for six months, he would have four or five muscles under control, achieving a level of speed and power. If he practises for another six months, he may control another four or five muscles and perfect balance to a greater degree. He will then have advanced this technique to a higher level.