Shotokan Karate International Federation

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PO Box 386
Queen Creek AZ 85142
Phone: 651-631-2379

Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation-United States of America ("SKIF-USA") is a private, not-for-profit, educational karate organization based in the United States of America. SKIF-USA was formed in 1998 and is affiliated directly with Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation ("SKIF"), based in Japan.

SKIF-USA is a representative organization controlled by a volunteer board of directors who are elected by its members. The board of directors elects officers and appoints staff to manage the day-to-day affairs of the organization. SKIF-USA's office, which is located in New Brighton, Minnesota, is administered by Lynda Crimmins, Administrative Assistant (4th dan).

SKIF-USA's board of directors consists of the following individuals:

      Jim Shea, President
      Mike Cook, General Secretary
      Lynda Crimmins, Secretary
      Penny Karpovsky, Treasurer
      Ruben Fung, Director
      Paul Danos, Director
      Chris Johnson, Director

SKIF-USA's mission is to carry forth the teachings and goals of SKIF founder, Master Hirokazu Kanazawa, Kancho:

      1. To instruct and promote the growth of karate-do;
      2. To promote good physical training for long life;
      3. To teach correct karate spirit and karate technique;
      4. To promote harmonious relationships with all karate practitioners ("karateka"); and
      5. To avoid the single-minded sport purpose.

To carry out this mission, SKIF-USA provides technical and organizational support for its members, organizes training seminars each year with Master Kanazawa and other senior SKIF instructors from Japan, the United States and other countries; sponsors karate tournaments and other events; selects and sponsors a U.S. team every three years to compete in the SKIF world tournaments; publishes a regular newsletter; maintains an internet website with information on SKIF events; sells SKIF and SKIF-USA merchandise; and provides periodic updates on items of interest to its members. In addition to its board of directors, SKIF-USA has an experienced technical committee, made up of the board of directors and other high-ranking SKIF instructors from the United States qualified to teach seminars on the SKIF system for members and prospective members.

SKIF, itself, is based in Tokyo, Japan, and is headed by Master Hirokazu Kanazawa, a tenth (10th) degree black belt ("dan") and by a board of directors. SKIF was founded by Master Kanazawa in 1977 and it is now the largest Shotokan-style karate educational organization in the world, with branches in over 90 countries.

Master Kanazawa is one of the most revered karate instructors in the world, and he is widely considered Shotokan karate's finest technician. He was a direct student of Shotokan karate founder, Master Gichin Funakoshi. Although he has a reputation for superb karate technique, Master Kanazawa is also highly respected and admired for his fine character and his ability to pass on the spiritual and moral essence of karate-do to his students of all ages and, particularly, to children. Master Kanazawa has also authored numerous Karate training books and produced several highly acclaimed training videos and DVDs. As such, he is a very popular karate instructor and constantly travels throughout the world to provide instruction to his students.

When Master Kanazawa formed the SKIF in 1977 he established a unique system of teaching Shotokan karate-do. The "SKIF system" is a well organized and structured system of training that is both scientific and spiritual. On the spiritual side, the following karate training precepts ("dojo-kun"), passed down from Master Funakoshi, are very important and must be followed by all members of SKIF:

      1. To strive for perfection of character;
      2. To defend the paths of truth;
      3. To foster the spirit of effort;
      4. To honor the principles of etiquette; and
      5. To guard against impetuous courage (maintain humility and self-control).

The SKIF system is rooted in tradition but is not bound by the limitations of traditional Shotokan karate training. For example, while the SKIF system includes all of the traditional 26 Shotokan forms ("kata"), it also currently includes four kata from other styles chosen by Master Kanazawa to complement traditional Shotokan karate training. The four additional kata include Master Kanazawa's interpretations of Seipai (from Goju-ryu), Seienchin (from Shito-ryu), Gankaku-Sho (from Shorin-ryu), and Niju Hachi-Ho (from Tomari-te and White Crane style wushu or gung-fu). For all of the kata, the SKIF system includes standardized movements, timing, and practical applications ("bunkai").

The SKIF system also includes a unique, comprehensive, and step-by-step approach to developing efficient and highly effective basic karate techniques ("kihon") and combinations, together with special breathing exercises, stretching, and warm-up exercises for developing and maintaining flexibility, strength and good health throughout one's life. Although the SKIF system is appropriate for people of all ages, it is particularly good for children. This is because the training is conducted in a safe and rewarding atmosphere, and follows a step-by-step approach which emphasizes correct breathing, posture, etiquette, mutual respect, and mental concentration.

The SKIF system includes a comprehensive approach to karate sparring ("kumite") and the application of karate techniques in self-defense. The system is designed to allow the karateka to progress from the most basic forms of prearranged five-step ("gohon") and three-step ("sanbon") kumite, emphasizing distance and timing, through the intermediate one-step ("kihon-ippon") kumite, and on to the advanced semi-free ("jyu-ippon") kumite and free sparring ("jyu-kumite"). In addition, the SKIF system includes self-defense applications against multiple opponents, as in kata, incorporating proper distance, timing, strategy, advanced techniques, focus ("kime"), proper targeting, and recovery.

The SKIF system also emphasizes and teaches traditional etiquette, strong moral principles, respect for others, and the promotion of good-will and harmony among all karateka, and all people, of the world. This is one reason SKIF members throughout the world consider themselves to be pat of the larger "SKIF family." It is also why the SKIF system appeals to many children and their parents.

Finally, the SKIF provides for internationally recognized and respected grading and certifications of SKIF members at all levels of experience from the lowest junior grades ("kyu" or non-black belt grades) to the highest dan grades. All dan grades must be registered at SKIF General Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, and once registered such grades are universally recognized by SKIF affiliates and many other traditional karate organizations around the world. The SKIF also provides opportunities for qualified individuals to achieve recognition and licensure as certified SKIF instructors, grading examiners, and referees for SKIF karate tournaments. For advanced dan grades, there is also the opportunity to achieve the traditional honorary titles of Renshi, Kyoshi and Hanshi.

About Shotokan Karate

Shotokan karate is the most popular style of traditional Japanese karate. Karate means "empty hand" in Japanese. Karate-do means "empty hand way." The term "empty" is used in the same context as it is in Zen meditation, meaning that the mind of the karateka is in a reflective and clear state and thus free of fear and distraction. As such, through proper training the skilled karateka learns to react with a clear mind and without fear or hesitation in a self-defense or other stressful situation.

Karate was introduced to mainland Japan from Okinawa in 1922 by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Master Funakoshi had studied karate as a young man while living in Okinawa and was a college professor.

Today, karate-do is practiced as a martial art, sport, and proven method of self defense. Like other Japanese martial arts ("budo"), the ultimate aim of karate-do is the perfection of the character of its participants. Through training, karateka learn self-control, mental and physical self-discipline, and the development of highly effective self-defense and fighting techniques. As such, karate training can be an excellent means of attaining and maintaining physical and emotional fitness and self-discipline. Traditional karate training involves basic training ("kihon"), forms ("kata"), and sparring ("kumite").

Japanese karate-do differs from Korean tae-kwon-do, Chinese wushu or kung-fu, and other martial arts because karate techniques are uniquely focused. This requires them to be performed with full mental concentration, proper speed, power, coordination, breathing, and body connection. A karate technique that is properly focused will have the practitioner's entire body and mind behind it and it will have great force and effect on the target or opponent if contact is made. Karate techniques include punches, strikes, blocks, kicks, sweeps, throws, joint locks, jumps, etc. Karate competition is popular with many karateka and a number of karate organizations sponsor tournaments. In traditional karate tournaments, however, contact to the face and head is prohibited in kumite matches and all techniques must be properly controlled.

It generally takes three (3) to five (5) years of regular training under a qualified instructor to reach the level of first (1st) degree black belt ("dan") in traditional Shotokan karate under the SKIF system. At that point, the karateka should have mastered the basics of karate and be ready to begin training at a more advanced level. However, under the SKIF system, karate training is considered a lifelong endeavor for those who wish to keep training. Thus, a practitioner can continue to train throughout his or her life and continue to develop skill, character, self-awareness, and understanding. As such, the first dan is really only a new beginning, and the serious practitioner may go well beyond that level and become a teacher or "sensei" after sufficient training and experience.