Thanks for your interest in everything SHOTORAMA! We are full steam ahead with getting ready for 2022 – it’s been a rough couple of years, and while we were sad that SHOTORAMA 2020 needed to be cancelled, we all pulled together (albeit safely) in 2021 and kept our dream of punchy-face-pyjamatime (a rejected name fo rthe original event) alive. We can only – and always do – hope for better times ahead. So here at shotorama towers, the imaginary castle where we all live and train in perfect harmony, the wooden floor is perfectly springy and the sunlight streams through the windows, illuminating the dust kicked up after our latest class. But now we are back to our office, manning the typewriters and the messenger pigeons; we are back to getting all the details ready for this year. New format, new instructors, new friends – ready to explore the beautiful and challenging expanse of the shotokan landscape.
Aside from still being the friendliest festival of shotokan around, we always want to push forward and improve, and hope that this year’s SHOTORAMA will be the best yet! Bring your friends, your club, your family!
In the meantime, here is the origin story for the legend of SHOTORAMA, passed down in awed whispers through the ages (since 2018). Gather close around the fire, and I will tell the tale…
The fantastical yet true origin story of SHOTORAMA.
While it may not be possible to draw a direct line from the Woodstock Festival of 1969 across some 5000 km and fifty years to Guildford in 2018, it doesn’t mean we won’t try. The connection is not the place, or the time, or anyone being at both, or what happened at either, or anything like that. It’s a connection of spirit, and possibly also comfortable clothing. One seemingly ordinary Thursday, over a drink after a seemingly ordinary club training at Kanshin, a small group of karateka got to talking. Who they were (it was us), and why they were there (karate, as mentioned already), is now lost to history. It is now simply thought of as: the beginning. Idle talk, friendly chatter, with no-one suspecting that this was to herald the start of something never seen, never thought of before. Opinions, thoughts, and yes even frustrations were aired, and echoed, and slowly enough a manifesto was drawn up for what would later, as the world now knows, was given the name SHOTORAMA. A new name, never before uttered, conjured as a vessel for the meaning we were waiting to pour into it.
That manifesto was, in reality, just a list of wishes that captured some of the feeling in the room, which had been let out and expressed among old friends and sparring partners. We loved shotokan, we lived it, and gosh darn we wanted to celebrate. Karate is much more than us. We wanted to train with our friends, yes, but we also wanted to be trained by our friends, to watch them in awe, to find out what they knew that we didn’t. We wanted a party, a festival, an event to remember. We wanted a ‘Karate Woodstock’. And, delicately, ceremoniously, we laid our feelings out, like glittering weapons of unfathomable magic. We placed the pieces together, nudged them this way and that, and it was almost as if we watched them arrange themselves into an outline…
- most instructors teach for love of karate, and the joy of teaching, but this is often lost in everyday training.
- too much syllabus. Too much of the same thing again, again.
- many of the friends we make in the karate world, through courses/competitions, are gifted instructors that we might never get to train under, only alongside.
- all instructors, like all students, bring something unique to their clubs.
- it is great to train and mix in with instructors and students from other clubs.
…it seemed crazy not to do something about it. We raised our glasses and felt extremely happy with ourselves. We went our separate ways, this fellowship of the aspiring.
And it might have ended there, were it not for the tenacity of Avi, the mastermind and architect of it all, who was already researching times and locations, and emailed us at half past one in the morning that very same night! Some of us, it seemed, had been thinking about this for a fair while already, and apparently the idea had been brewing ever since a conversation long ago with the wise wizard Dave Austin. I recall having some of those conversations with the man myself over the years.
Almost by default, John and I were on board; how could we not be? Instead of conspirators, we had become the committee. We started to scheme, or whatever it is that committees do, and while Avi beavered away on the logistics of getting a space big enough for long enough for something special, I sent waves of emails out to our friends across the region. Chris was the first to jump on board, which gave us the faith we might connect with an audience, while Blyth and Kate kept us on tenterhooks for a while before coming up trumps, and John confirmed for Dave G using rokyudan telepathy. We managed to coax Frank out of central London. Other friends expressed interest combined with regret that they had clashes for that day, and their names were quietly put on the secret list for the future we hoped would come.
Nonetheless, a team was forming. The dan grades were stacking up. The venue was confirmed. The sun came out and warmed our faces. The name ‘Karate Woodstock’, as well as the proffered ‘kickfest’, was dropped in favour of ‘Shotorama’, and websites were begun. We had almost everything we needed: a philosophy, a domain name, a mission. It was time to tell the world that we were making something to be a part of. It was going to be big. And as the saying goes:
If you build it, they will SHOTORAMA.
See you there!