Boise State Shotokan Karate Club teaches traditional karate methods. Its mission consists in preserving, perpetuating, and advancing the legacy of Shotokan karate for the advancement of all the trainees. The Club members practice a traditional style of Japanese karate (Shotokan), including block and kick forms and basic punches necessary for one’s self-defense. The Club operates under the umbrella of the national Shotokan Karate of America (SKA) headed by Mr. Ohshima (Ohshima 22).

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For the purposes of outlining this proposal, I have opted for Elizabeth Wardle’s eight requirements, including (1) Subject (person or people participating); (2) Motives (what directs the subject’s activities?); (3) Object (immediate goals); (4) Outcome (long term goals); (5) Tools (objects and symbols used to accomplish activity); (6) Rules (do/don’ts, norms, and conventions); (7) Community (larger group subject is part of); and (8) Division of labor (how tasks are distributed) (Kain and Wardle, 12).

The proposal outlines the way the selected group qualifies for Activity Theory. The proposal also includes MLA-cited sources, two people I am going to interview and a list of five interview questions. Finally, the proposal contains the actual dates for observations.

I have chosen to study the performance of Boise State Shotokan Karate Club by joining its membership because I admire fight sports and want to know more about this unique style of Japanese (Shotokan) karate. Following this I decided to attend the Club and befriend members of the Club to receive a precise understanding regarding the Club performance and the activities involved. Live interviews assisted me in finding an inner touch (truth?) about the specifics of the Club and Shotokan karate style.

I have never been involved with the Club before and my primary goal is to explore the incentives that inspire people to join Boise State Shotokan Karate Club. After speaking to several Club members, I found that the majority joined the Club in order to learn the art of self-defense. As a result, I came to understand that my main motive to join the club was to be able to defend myself should it be necessary. Then, I would also like to understand the relationship between the members of the Club and if they remain friendly after fighting with each other. The question I asked Jordon: “What was your initial motivation to join the Club and did it meet your expectations so far?” (Zaleski,)

All members understand that Shotokan is not about violence or brutal street fighting, more precisely, it is a part of national Japanese philosophy and its culture. Shotokan is a karate style that embraces various martial arts. Essentially, Shotokan is a traditional form of karate, including kihon (the basics), kata (the moves), and kumite (the sparring). These components make the style perfect for self-defense. Long deep stances of kihon or kata provide stability combined with powerful movements. This understanding helps me appreciate the style as a form of meditation, combined with physical tension and discipline, that taken together balance my body and boost my self-esteem. While absorbed within the philosophy of the Shotokan karate style, I arrange physical and emotional balance, compelling me to be fearless before the counterpart. The most important aspect for me was to kill the inner fear and anxiety, before fighting the person in a sparring. While my physical shape and movements were more or less acceptable, I experienced psychological discomfort about having to fight someone I had befriended in the Club. After our Shotokan sansei instructed us to fight each other during three minutes of a sparring, I was rather confused and did not know exactly what to do. While I was good at kihon and kata, I was unsuccessful in my ability to involve into a sparring adequately. Therefore, I failed to achieve the entire object of Shotokan completely, as the philosophy of self-defense is not complete without sparring each other. Although that experience disappointed me, I decided to work more on my preparation for the next sparring occasion.

As part of Japanese culture and a fighter’s inner philosophy, Shotokan is a dynamic martial art involving powerful fighting techniques and speed. While emphasis is on power and speed the style gradually progresses to the advanced forms of self-control, defense and fighting. Ultimately, the long-term outcome of Shotokan is not to offend another person but to fight for oneself. The philosophy of the style excludes aggression and brutality, rather, it is concentrated on developing inner qualities, such as calmness and a deep spirituality that helps a fighter understand its capacity in this particular fighting style. Before progressing to the main elements (kihon (the basics), kata (moves), and kumite), all members of the Club sit in rows to meditate under the supervision of sansei. This enables proper preparation and balance of one’s physical and emotional condition to exercise and find (is it fight? or define what is found) during the training sessions. Another question during the interview, “Have you now reconsidered your behavior once you faced an enemy on the street? And please explain.” (Surname)

The philosophy of Shotokan is founded on twenty principles with involve the styles of Bushido and Zen. The foundations of the style require mutual respect, humility, calmness, patience and compassion. Each improve a fighters’ physical and emotional condition as well as prepare them to face the challenges and hazards confronting them. The philosophy of the style assumes that everything is inside a fighter’s self. Therefore, rather than physical strength, Shotokan prioritizes on an inner psychological state that primarily designates one’s readiness to fight and defend one’s self. (Masahiko 36).

Further, there are five philosophical rules designating the training process. First, a fighter should seek inner perfection, this suggests that Shotokan is not about fighting one another, but about revealing one’s inner potential to be able to fight and defend oneself. Second, a fighter should remain faithful regardless of circumstances, this ensures the style is rather decent and just. Third, the style expects fighters to excel while it prioritizes on permanent advancement. Fourth, the Shotokan philosophy is about mutual respect. Finally, the style refrains from brutality and violence. All these fundamentals are referred to as the ‘Five Maxims of Karate’ and make Shotokan something more than just an ordinary fighting style. This philosophical school of thought cares about the mental purity and physical perfection of its members. The ultimate ideal does not about in winning or losing, but is about self-perfection, and this is why the Shotokan style of karate appeals to me. Another question, “What are the particular features of the Shotokan philosophy that appeal to you most and do they suit your personal worldview?” (Surname)

Given the concentrated philosophy of the style, Shotokan applies particular rules. Shotokan style is easy to understand (Shotokan Federation 1-10). It uses a variety of techniques that anyone can deploy in their own style, however the rules and regulations seem technical to me. The most important part I admire is the depth of the philosophical background sustaining the manner which illustrates Shotokan as a particular style and fighting behavior. The philosophy is about protecting oneself rather than offending others. It does refrains from showing dominance over weaker counterparts, the same as showing in the purpose of self-defense. There are professional Shotokan competitions with referees and technical scoring, however, for the present I am just an amateur taking my first steps in this fascinating endeavor. Another question is: “What was your initial motivation to join the Club and did it meet your expectations so far?” (Surname)

Regarding this immediate community, Boise State Shotokan Karate Club involves nice people who want to learn how to care about themselves and to be physically and emotionally fit. There is no age limit, although group members do come from a various walks of life. While speaking to two group members, I found few similarities in our lifestyles. These guys are high school students. I hope they will find many things in common in the future and develop sound interaction. The question I would like to ask them during the assumed interview will sound as follows: “Will you recommend joining the Club to your family members or friends and why?”

Division of Labor
While the style consists of kihon (the basics), kata (moves), and kumite (sparring), everyone is involved in individual and group activities. Nonetheless, the training session is clearly structured under the rigid supervision of the sansei. There are individual and group activities, although most are part of group work. For half and hour, we drill the skills within the framework of kihon and kata activities and occasionally fight in sparring. If someone fails to perform the assigned tasks properly, sansei punishes in the form of push-ups or doing ups-and-downs.

As part of follow-up action, I intend to explore in more detail the features of Boise State Shotokan Karate Club by interviewing its members and comparing their experiences with my own personal impressions about the Club and the Shotokan karate style. Also, when I participated in gym, I learned much about how they care for each other and play like one family. Overall, I have really enjoyed membership in this Club and my experience of interacting with nice and open-minded people. Most important, I found the karate philosophy rather engaging and relevant to my inner perceptions and worldview.

  • Kain, Donna and Wardle, Elizabeth. Activity Theory: An Introduction for the Writing Classroom. (pp 1-9). East Carolina University. 2004
  • Masahiko, Tanaka. Karate-dō: Perfecting Kumite, Sake Publishers. 2001. Print.
  • Ohshima, Tsutomu. Notes on Training. Idyll Arbor, Enumclaw, WA. 1998. Print.