Shotokai Karate-do and Master Shigeru Egami

 

Born in 1912, Shigeru Egami entered Waseda University in 1932. Here he discovered Karate-do through Gichin Funakoshi. He became his main student. In 1935 Master Funakoshi's students establish an association with the mission of aiding their teacher; it is named Shotokai (Shoto= Gichin Funakoshi's pseudonym; Kai= association). After the II WW Shigeru Egami is Master Funakoshi's chief assistant. After his death in 1958 the presidency of Shotokai is taken over by Genshin Hironishi and Shigeru Egami becomes Chief Instructor, all this is done with complete authorization of the Funakoshi family.
From 1958 until 1967 Master Egami in involved in a series of studies of Karate-do practice. He is considered the heir and receiver of Master Gichin Funakoshi's Karate-do. He tries to deepen in the teachings of his Master.

He was convinced that the JKA "Shotokan" Karate evolution was very far from the teachings of Master Funakoshi. For example, Gichin Funakoshi's oi-tsuki was done relaxed and without muscle contraction. Many of his students believed that this was due to his age (he was quite old at that time). But this characteristic was actually essential and fundamental. Master Egami never accepted competition, something he considered a complete contradiction of the spirit of Karate-do that later evolves into a training of strength and contraction. "If the body is the limit, the spirit can go even further". This phrase in itself sums up Master Egami's thoughts. He introduced extremely low positions where relaxation should be total and acting naturally an amplification of the technique is attained. Quite the contrary the more you contract the shorter the movement's amplitude. The forms, Kata (the schemes are almost the same as JKA) are taken to the utmost and are chained in a very fluid manner without interruption. In Ippon Kumite Master Egami establishes the idea of never moving backwards and insists strongly on the notion of sen-no-sen, anticipating the other persons attack. This is summarized in the "irimi" concept, literally "to enter". Due to his respect of Master Funakoshi's ideas, Master Egami refuses even the concept of sports competition in Karate. His basic idea (just as in Aikido) is that kumite (conventional or free) is a search for harmony between the partners and no the egoistic search motivated by the wish of beating the opponent.

Original article in French by Pierre Portocarrero
Translated and slightly adapted by

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