Back in 1977 I noticed on my college campus that there was a Shotokan Karate club that met regularly. I had no clue as to the differences between the martial arts and certainly why Shotokan was any different than any other Karate. Being a big gym rat I thought that this might be something I could add to my workout. Additionally, still being a teen I was still being harassed by bullies. I thought that if they knew I was studying this that they would leave me alone.
With no second thought I paid some money and joined a class. I remember the instructor was a real scarry dude and he taught the class like a marine sergeant. The class was super hard and I had muscles hurting that I didn't realize I had. I specifically remember him having us stand in these low stances and stay that way for several minutes. He screamed at anyone that try to get up and my leg muscles felt like they were heating up so much that I could fry an egg on them.
Having paid the money up front I was determined to tough it out and continue no matter how hard it was. About that time I remember seeing a Chuck Norris film where he talked about imagining that you had a third eye and you would be able to block out pain. I decided to give this a try and I found that when my leg muscles were screaming at me trying to hold a stance, I was able to actually block out the physical pain. As the classes progressed my legs got strong fast and quickly I was able to hold a stance for upwards of five minutes or more.
I found that the mental toughness I was developing was helping me in other parts of my life. I started to retain more when I was studying and I started developing more confidence in myself. I stopped worrying about those "bullies" and actually thought they were just trivial annoyances rather than significant problems.
About a year later I found an instructor that was tough but not scarry. He spent a lot more time in teaching the meaning to everything that we did. This made Karate a lot more interesting and I found myself able to progress through the ranks a lot quicker. I started training 5-7 days a week. On days I didn't train I still took time to practice moves from my Kata (the Japanese term for forms).
Eventually, I progressed to my black belt and later became an instructor myself. Becoming an instructor helped my leadership skills and also helped me to perfect my technique more rapidly because I needed to be as perfect as possible when demonstrating.
I find that Shotokan is an excellent workout. The amount of energy expended per move is about the greatest of any martial art. I know about 25 Katas and a good hour and a half workout could have me just practicing each Kata about 3-4 times. Shotokan helped me perfect my punching skill that when I started learning boxing I was able to perfect the punching technique for boxing almost immediately.
Shotokan draws power from the hips and this thought can help you in other sports or doing physical labor, thus saving your back and making lifting heavy objects easier. What I learned from Karate has helped me be a better public speaker. Shotokan is an art that makes you project your power out in front of you and this is very useful to project out to your audience when you are giving a presentation.
Karate is ingrained in my life and has helped me develop myself beyond what I could have imagined both physically and mentally. Karate is not easy and takes a lot of self-discipline and perserverance to get good. Most people quit after a few lessons and I would estimate that only one in one hundred students ever advances to black belt. However, if you are willing to make the effort, the journey is worth it!
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Shotokan (松濤館流, Shōtōkan-ryū?) is a style of karate, developed from various martial arts by Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957) and his son Gigo (Yoshitaka) Funakoshi (1906–1945). Gichin was born in Okinawa  and is widely credited with popularizing karate through a series of public demonstrations, and by promoting the development of university karate clubs, including those at Keio, Waseda, Hitotsubashi (Shodai), Takushoku, Chuo, Gakushuin, and Hosei.
Funakoshi had many students at the university clubs and outside dojos, who continued to teach karate after his death in 1957. However, internal disagreements led to the creation of different organizations—including an initial split between the Japan Karate Association (headed by Masatoshi Nakayama) and the Shotokai (headed by Shigeru Egami), followed by many others—so that today there is no single "Shotokan school", although they all bear Funakoshi's influence.
Famous practitioners of Shotokan:
UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida is a 3rd-dan Shotokan black belt, while his brother Shinzo is a 4th-dan and their father Yoshizo is a 7th-dan and head of the Japan Karate Association's Brazilian branch.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Vitor Belfort recently earned his Blue Belt in Shotokan.