Karate is a Martial Art originated in Okinawa, is part of the proud heritage of the Okinawan
people. Okinawa consists of many small islands surrounded by beautiful, emarald green Pacific Ocean.
You can see Okinawa islands in the Southwest direction of Japan in a World Map.
Karate is a populer martial art, recognized worldwide not only for its affectivity,
but also for its deep philosophical content. The constant combination of mind,
body and spirit makes Karate an invaluable method of personal growth, physical
training and sport realization.
It is said that the traditional Okinawan martial arts called 'Te' and 'Chinese Kempo'
were blended together and developed into karate.
Okinawa used to be known as the Ryukyu Kingdom and developed its own distinct culture through
trade and exchange with China and other Southeast Asian Countries.
Karate later underwent significant
developments in Okinawa based on several factors, including the 'Policy of banning weapons'
following the political centralization of King Shoshin (1477-1526) and the Satsuma Clan's
invasion of Ryukyu (1609).
It later developed further through a process of systematization into 'Modern Karate',
which actually had a lot to do with the efforts of the men known as the Chuko no so
(The Revivers), including Sokon Matsumura (1828-1898) of the Shuri-te style,
Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) of the Tomari-te style and Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915)
of the Naha-te style.
The main traditions of Karate were named by the name of the area. Shuri-te (Hand of Shuri)
was practises in Shuri, and Naha-te (Hand of Naha) in Naha and
Tomari-te (Hand of Tomari)
in Tomari. Later Shuri-te and Tomari-te were named as Shorin-Ryu
and Naha-te as Goju Ryu.
In 1908, 'The 10 Articles of Karate' prepared by Anko Itosu were submitted to
the Educational Affairs Section of Okinawa Prefecture. After that, karate started
being introduced into the school gymnastics curriculum, thus acquiring broad accessibility,
in contrast to the previously secret principles of Isshi-soden (the complete
transmission of a ryu's techniques only to your heir).
BackIn the early 20th century, karate began to be introduced throughout Japan by
several masters, including Gichin Funakoshi (1871-1954), Founder of Shotokan),
Kenwa Mabuni (1891-1952, Founder of Shito-ryu), Kanbun Uechi (1877-1948, Founder of Uechi-ryu)
and Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953, Founder of Goju-ryu).
Also throughout Okinawa, karate was taught by masters such as Chotoku Kyan
(1870-1945), Choki Motobu (1870-1941) and Choshin Chibana (1885-1969, Founder of Shorin (Kobayashi) ryu).
The original name 'To-di' was changed to 'Karate' at that time.
Karate gives the literal
meaning of 'Empty Hand'. It tells that Karate is a martial art which, practiced with empty hands.
But the deep meaning of 'Kara' related with the Zen Principle of 'complete emptiness of mind (Mushin)'.
The Zen Principle of 'Do' (path) was introduced instead of 'Jutsu'
and the art was called as 'Karate-do'.
Today Karate is practiced by over 4.5 million people in more than 140 countries. Karate which
stand out among all Japanese 'Bushido' Martial Arts, are often called the greatest art of self defence by