Fort Collins Shotokan Karate is a club-member of the Mountain States Region of ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Organization), With more than 70 country-members worldwide, ISKF certifies and continually trains our instructors, awards certificates of rank, and organizes clinics, seminars, camps, and competitions at the regional, national, and international levels to promote the practice of traditional karate. For more info see ISKF's main website at

Developed as a way of self-defense, shotokan karate was formalized by Master Gichin Funakoshi in the early 20th century based on older Okinawan styles. Our trainings follow what has become a typical three-pronged approach which includes kihon, or basics, (blocking, striking, kicking, and other techniques), kata (groups of techniques practiced in sequence), and kumite (with its 3 sub-categories of pre-arranged multi-step and one-step sparring, semi-free sparring, and progressing carefully towards free sparring).

We cultivate a friendly atmosphere and promote every individual student’s physical and mental development towards technical mastery, self-control and confidence. Young and old, every body shape and size, every skin color, beginners and experienced students are all welcome to train with us.

To make them affordable to all, our classes are offered through the city of Fort Collins Recreation Program (for info and to register see A reduced fee program is available for those who qualify (see


​​ Karate is a traditional Japanese empty-hand martial art that combines physical and mental training toward character development. Master Masatoshi Nakayama succinctly defined karate-do as “a martial art for the development of character through training, so that the karate-ka [the practitioner of karate] can surmount any obstacle, tangible or intangible." Like other Japanese self-defense arts, such as Judo and Aikido, karate does not involve the use of weapons even if some of its techniques and forms (kata) were developed for defense against armed opponents. The tradition to which karate belongs has made its way into Japan via Okinawa where it likely blended with existing local traditions. From Japan it now spread to the world. As a modern sport, “karate” refers to the athletic development involved in the practice and to the competitions put together by several organizations, including our own, ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Federation).

​ In Master Gichin Funakoshi’s lineage, karate training has been formally split into the practice of kihon, kata, and kumite. Kihon refers to the basic techniques and combinations of techniques. Kata refers to forms involving a prescribed sequence of techniques to be executed with utmost focus and sense of purpose, and which can be practiced in its many possible applications, or bunkai. Kumite refers to a variety of sparring exercises including free-sparring. Karate as a martial art also incorporates self-defense and (for the “art” part) it develops only via practice, under attentive and knowledgeable supervision. Beyond its early acquisition phase where the basics are learned, karate practice involves creativity and adaptation to one’s own body-type and temperament. Kime, meaning the “explosive attack to the target using the appropriate technique and maximum power in the shortest time possible”, is the essence of karate technique. As character development karate is an endless endeavor that takes a lifetime. In this acception it is properly referred to as karate-do, meaning karate as a way of life.

​ The outwardly obvious aspect of karate, definitely one that is important in its practice, is the physical training of the body. However, as a complete traditional martial art passed on through generations, karate is meant to affect the entire person: the body, surely, but also the mind which through practice learns to focus better, and the spirit which learns to remain calm regardless of the situation. Through daily karate practice, the student attempts to achieve a high level of body awareness and body control. Concepts like tanden (core of the body) and chu-shin-sen (main axis of body), often used in karate teaching, refer to the body’s “center” of energy, weight and balance. This and other similarly physical aspects of karate are promoted through the teaching of technique, waza. The technique, in a subsequent stage of training, needs to be applied with the highest mental concentration and presence of spirit, kime. Such practice is one through which the practitioner teaches his/her own body specific motions to the point where the body itself remembers correct form. This is already a stage that involves mental training because the mind and body are thus taught to become one. When this is achieved, the mind can be emptied (mu-shin), free to remain still and opened to everything; the path for the spirit to come through in its true nature is thus cleared. It sounds good, but this progression is merely a theoretical one. Though striving for perfection, in reality each practitioner achieves only a certain amount of each of these aspects and there is always room for improvement. The principles of karate training as well as the ethical and social principles of karate are embodied in the dojo-kun, the five precepts we repeat at each class. The dojo-kun reflects the emphasis on the entire person that is present in all the arts of Japanese budo; karate’s peculiarity is that it attempts to achieve perfection of character via a practice involving a set of empty-hand defense techniques. ​

Benefits of karate practice

Physical benefits are the most obvious. Shotokan karate is vigorous aerobic exercise where strength, speed, flexibility, balance, control and precision in one’s movements are practiced and tested

The mental benefits are also important; focus, composure and ability to deal calmly with adversity are all cultivated and will benefit students in life just as much as in their karate practice.

Self-discipline benefits are equally important to a sustained practice and spill into (for example, young) student’s ability to deal with the pressures of the academic environment. Sustained karate practice yields incremental results and, over a long period of time, competence. If internalized by students, acquired as a life-skill, the habit of sustained-effort can affect student's ability to achieve life/academic/professional goals.

Self-defense benefits, for men and women, young and old, are also acquired through karate practice. Self-defense means the ability to successfully resist attack but it also means the (rather mental) ability to recognize conflict and to diffuse it before it becomes open.

Social benefits, too, are derived from karate practice. We believe karate brings positive values to a community. It, in fact, creates a community of diverse practitioners brought together by their interest in this martial art. At Fort Collins Shotokan Karate we promote a friendly atmosphere where every student is expected to help others develop and receives the same support in return.