Building blocks: Shotokan Karate Sensei instructs students at Community Center (PHOTOS)

Savannah Chastain
Sensei Ricardo Perdomo, lead instructor for Shotokan Karate in the Destin Community Center, is a former Navy Seabee, and two-time black belt recipient. He explained that Shotokan runs deeper than simply a form of karate. "Shotokan is an actual way of life," he told The Log, "It's also a lot of fun."

Joe Cayer, or Sensei as his pupils call him, is a veteran martial arts instructor with 42 years of karate literally under his belt.

“I have eleven different black-belts,” Cayer said. “And I’ve settled on the art of Shotokan.”

Japanese Shotokan Karate is one of the most popular karate forms, Cayer explained to The Log, comparative only to Korean karate form, Taekwondo.

“I feel that it’s a more well-rounded art of all the karate art forms,” said Cayer, founder of Emerald Coast Martial Arts Academy in Fort Walton Beach. “The reason being for the life enrichment aspect in addition to the physical aspect.”

To see a video from a recent class, CLICK HERE.

Shotokan karate holds a code of conduct called the 20 Precepts of Karate-Do, which were set down by founder of the art form, Japanese master Gichin Funakoshi.

“We have a motto,” said Cayer. “ ‘This is exercise with a purpose,’ You’re doing all of that (karate) with a purpose in mind — tailored to personal goals…enriching life with principles involved with the arts.”

Shotokan derives its name from a poetry pen name given to Funakoshi. Signing his poetry, “Shoto”, which means, “whispering pines,” Funakoshi merged his two pastimes when he began calling his karate training dojo, the Shoto-kan or the “place of Shoto.”

There is now a new ‘place of Shoto’ in the Destin Community Center, and classes are now forming for ages 10 and up. Shotokan incorporates self-defense moves and Cayer explained that he hopes to offer specialty classes in the near future to include women’s, disability, and kids self-defense courses.

Cayer welcomes people from all stages of life to join the art form as he told The Log, “We have sixty-three year old men in there; you can be in a wheel-chair even as we teach disability techniques as well.”

Classes are held Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m.

For sign-up and details visit,

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