History

History of Karate

Karate is a Japanese word meaning “empty hands” indicating that Karate is a type of martial art that does not require weapons other than body parts. Originally, it was an unarmed self-defense method developed in the Okinawa Islands from various techniques introduced from mainland China, as well as local innovations. In fact, the origins of karate seem rather obscure and little is known about the early development of karate until it emerged in Okinawa. Although its origins are unclear, a popular legend holds that the evolution of karate began more than a thousand years ago, possibly as early as 5 BC when Bodhidharma arrived in Shaolin-si in China from India and taught Zen Buddhism. He also introduced a series of systematic exercises designed to strengthen the mind and body. This series of exercises supposedly marked the beginning of the Shaolin temple style of boxing. Bodhidharma’s teachings later became the basis for most Chinese martial arts. However, questions about his contribution to martial arts and Zen Buddhism and even his existence have been controversial among historians and martial arts scholars for years.

The Historical Origins Of Karate

Karate was originally known as ‘Kenpo’, which means ‘First Law’. From China cross to Okinawa, where it is known as ‘Te’, which consists mostly of hand gestures. In 1923 Okinawans changed Chinese characters to Japanese characters. Thus, the meaning changed from ‘Chinese hand’ to ’empty hand’. This transition definitely carries a deeper meaning to an art where the spiritual trumps the physical.

Te has continued to thrive over the years, especially in three Okinawan cities: Shuri, Naha and Tomari. Each of these cities was the center of a different sect of society: kings and nobles, merchants and businessmen, and farmers and fishermen. For this reason, various forms of self-defense developed in each city and came to be known as Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te. Collectively they are called Okinawa-Te or Tode, ‘Chinese hand’. Gradually, karate was divided into two main groups: Shorin-ryu that developed around Shuri and Tomari and Shorei-ryu that originated in the Naha area. It is important to note, however, that the cities of Shuri, Tomari, and Naha are only a few miles apart, and the difference between their art is essentially emphasis, not type. Beneath these surface differences,  both the methods and goals of all Okinawan karate are the same. Shorin-ryu is fast and linear with natural breathing while Shorei-ryu emphasizes steady, rooted movements with breathing in sync with each movement. The Chinese character Tode can also be pronounced ‘kara’, so the name Te was replaced with kara te – jutsu or ‘Chinese hand art” by the Okinawan Masters. This was later changed to karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning to the Chinese character for kara, ’empty’. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations. Shorin-ryu is fast and linear with natural breathing while Shorei-ryu emphasizes steady rooted movements with breathing in sync with each movement.

The Chinese character Tode can also be pronounced ‘kara’, so the name Te was replaced with kara te – jutsu or ‘Chinese hand art” by the Okinawa Masters. This was later changed to karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning to the Chinese character for kara, ’empty’. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations. Shorin-ryu is fast and linear with natural breathing while Shorei-ryu emphasizes steady rooted movements with breathing in sync with each movement. The Chinese character Tode can also be pronounced ‘kara’, so the name Te was replaced with kara te – jutsu or ‘Chinese hand art” by the Okinawa Masters. This was later changed to karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning to the Chinese character for kara, ’empty’. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations.

The Chinese character Tode can also be pronounced ‘kara’, so the name Te was replaced with kara te – jutsu or ‘ This was later changed to karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning to the Chinese character for kara, ’empty’. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations. The Chinese character Tode can also be pronounced ‘kara’, so the name Te was replaced by kara te – jutsu or ‘Chinese hand art’ by the Okinawan Masters. This was later changed to karate-do by Gichin Funakoshi who adopted an alternative meaning to the Chinese character for kara, ’empty’. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations. From this point on the term karate means ’empty hands’. Do in karate-do means ‘the way’ or ‘the way’, and is indicative of the discipline and philosophy of karate with moral and spiritual connotations.

The Martial Arts of Japan

In the last seven decades, the technique has been modified into a distinct Japanese style. There are currently four main styles of karate-do in Japan: Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shotokan, and Wado-ryu: Many. These styles are currently taught in the world and are often modified into styles that are more suited to their own self-defense methods. Thus the art of karate continues to experience improvements and revisions.

In its development, Karate gradually began to stand out as a sport. In 1916, two experts from Okinawa, Kenwa Mabuni and Gigen Funakoshi introduced their technique to Japan with the aim of promoting Karate as a sport throughout Japan. As a sport, Karate offers various levels and types of competition. A typical tournament will include demonstrations of breaking, use of weapons, self-defense techniques, traditions and open forms and the most interesting competition, sparring. Competitive tournaments bring together many different styles of Karate.