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History of Karate-Do

The origins of Karate remain hidden but this much we know that it has taken root and is widely practiced through out East Asia amongst peoples who follow Budhism,Mohammedanism,Hinduism,Braminism and Taoism.
During the course of human history particular arts of self defence have gained their followings in East Asia there is a basic underlying similarity. For this reason karate is related in one way or another.  



Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri Okinawa in the year of  1868 to Okinawan parents and originally had the family name Tominakoshi. After entering primary school he became close friends with the son of  Anko Asato, a karate and Kendo master who would soon become his first karate teacher.

Family - Tradition
Funakoshi's family was stiffly opposed to the abolition of the Japanese Top Knot, and this meant he would be ineligible to pursue his goal of attending medical school, despite having passed the entrance examination. Being trained in both classical Chinese and Japanese philosophies and teachings, Funakoshi became an assistant teacher in Okinawa. During this time, his relations with the Asato family grew and he began nightly travels to the Asato family residence to receive karate instruction from Ankō Asato.
Funakoshi had trained in both of the popular styles of Okinawan karate of the time: Shōrei-ryū and Shōrin-ryū. Shotokan is named after Funakoshi's pen name, Shoto, which means "pine waves" or "wind in the pines". In addition to being a karate master, Funakoshi was an avid poet and philosopher who would reportedly go for long walks in the forest where he would meditate and write his poetry. Kan means training hall, or house, thus Shotokan referred to the "house of Shoto". This name was coined by Funakoshi's students when they posted a sign above the entrance of the hall at which Funakoshi taught reading "Shoto kan".
By the late 1910s, Funakoshi had many students, of which a few were deemed capable of passing on their master's teachings. Continuing his effort to garner widespread interest in Okinawan karate, Funakoshi ventured to mainland Japan in 1922.
In 1930 Funakoshi established association named Dai-nihon Karate-do Kenkyukai to promote communication and information exchange among people who study karate-do. In 1936 Dai-nippon Karate-do Kenkyukai changed its name to Dai-nippon Karate-do Shoto-kai. The association is known today as Shotokai. Shotokai is the official keeper of Funakoshi`s Karate-do heritage.

Shoto Kan Dojo
In 1939, Funakoshi built the first Shōtōkan dojo in Tokyo. He changed the name of karate to mean "empty hand" instead of "Chinese hand" (as referred to in Okinawa); the two words sound the same in Japanese, but are written differently. It was his belief that using the term for "Chinese" would mislead people into thinking karate originated with Chinese Boxing. Karate had borrowed many aspects from Chinese boxing which the original creators say as being positive, as they had done with other martial arts. In addition, Funakoshi argued in his autobiography that a philosophical evaluation of the use of "empty" seemed to fit as it implied a way which was not tethered to any other physical object.


Dissatisfaction in Okinawa
Funakoshi's take on the use of kata was reported to have caused some recoil in Okinawa, prompting Funakoshi to remain in Tokyo indefinitely.His extended stay eventually led to the creation of the JKA (Japan Karate Association) in 1949 with Funakoshi as the honorary head of the organization. Funakoshi was not supportive of all of the changes that the organization eventually made to his karate style. He remained in Tokyo until his death in 1957. After World War 2, Funakoshi's surviving students formalized his teachings.

Kata The True Meaning

Towards the latter half of his life, Master Funakoshi became extremely dissatisfied with the direction in which the system he had originally created had been developed. All elements of true karate style pressure point striking were slowly removed and emphasis on fighting and training with kata devolved to little more than endurance training, with little understanding of kata's meaning



Memorial for Funakoshi at Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura, south of Tokyo

A memorial to Gichin Funakoshi was erected by the Shotokai at Engaku-ji, a temple in Kamakura, on December 1, 1968. Designed by Kenji Ogata the monument features calligraphy by Funakoshi and Sōgen Asahina (1891-1979), chief priest of the temple which reads Karate ni sente nashi (There is no first attack in karate), the second of Funakoshi’s Twenty Precepts. To the right of Funakoshi’s precept is a copy of the poem he wrote on his way to Japan in 1922.


Memorial for Funakoshi at Engaku-ji temple in Kamakura, south of Tokyo
A second stone features an inscription by Nobuhide Ohama and reads:
“Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, of karate-do, was born on June 10, 1870, in Shuri Okinawa. From about eleven years old he began to study to-te jutsu under Azato Anko and Itosu Anko. He practiced diligently and in 1912 became the president of the Okinawan Shobukai. In May of 1922, he relocated to Tokyo and became a professional teacher of karate-do. He devoted his entire life to the development of karate-do. He lived out his eighty-eight years of life and left this world on April 26, 1957. Reinterpreting to-te jutsu, the Sensei promulgated karate-do while not losing its original philosophy. Like bugei (classical martial arts), so too is the pinnacle of karate “mu” (enlightenment): to purify and make one empty through the transformation from “jutsu” to “do”. Through his famous words “Karate ni sente nashi” (There is no first attack in Karate) and “Karate wa kunshi no bugei” (Karate is the martial art of intelligent people), Sensei helped us to better understand the term “jutsu.” In an effort to commemorate his virtue and great contributions to modern karate-do as a pioneer, we, his loyal students, organised the Shotokai and erected this monument at the Enkakuji. “Kenzen ichi” (“The fist and Zen are one”).”

It is from this heritage that today we train in Karate Do as much a philosophy as a martial Art in self defence enabling all people of all ages to participate in good spirit and harmony.


“Movement is non movement – non movement is movement”
Buddhist Saying

Important Points
Gichin Funakoshi

1/ You must be deadly serious in training.

2/Train with your heart and soul without worrying about theory.

3/ ……………………………………..

4/ Avoid self conceit and dogmatism

5/ Try to see yourself as you truly are.

6/ Abide by the rules of ethics in your daily life.

Number 3 is unaccountably missing


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All contents taken without prejudice and Malice and no intention of breach of copyright intended.
References taken from; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gichin_Funakoshi
“Karate do My way of life “Gichin Funakoshi- Kodansha International
610/2010 F.Daniels