Toro No Maki – The tiger scroll


When searching karate on the internet you will come across the iconic symbol for Shotokan karate and this is easily recognisable. The Shotokan symbol comprises of a three elements. An image of a tiger that is enclosed in a circle with kanji in the top right corner.

The term “Toro No Maki” translates into “master text” or “scroll” and this was developed by a friend of one of Gichin Funakoshi’s students by the name of Hoan Kusugi. The characters in the top right corner of the Shotokan symbol represent the initials of the artist Hoan Kusugi.

It was believed that Hoan Kusugi was a massive influence in the beginning of Funakoshi’s karate life and Hoan persuaded Funakoshi to write a definitive text on the art of karate.

Once Funakoshi had completed his text Kusugi was to print the cover for his book. As the word Toro also means tiger, a tiger was printed for the cover and the birth of the Shotokan tiger had begun.

The Shotokan tiger first appeared on a book that Gichin Funakoshi wrote called Ryukyu Kempo: Tode back in 1922. You may know this book now as Karate-Do Kyohan.

Today many Shotokan karate clubs honour this symbol its history and use the Shotokan tiger to distinguish their dojo from others.

However, the JKA (Japan Karate Association do not adopt this image and still insist on using the Inyo as their primary symbol for Shotokan karate.

images taken from and