Although the basic forms of individual self-defense are probably as old as the human race, the art of karate as it is practiced today can be traced directly to the Okinawan technique called, in Japanese, Okinawan-te (Okinawan hands). This system of self-defense in turn is a descendant of ancient Chinese art of ch'uan-fa or kempo (fist way).
Martial arts were developed in India about 3000 years ago. Developed in the monastery by the monks the forms practiced were more similar to tai chi chung yang style, a slow moving excise to counter the effects of prolonged meditation. It is said to have enabled the monks to defend themselves without arms against the numerous bandits of the time. In about the year 525 AD a monk named Daruma Tadashi (Bodhidharma) walked across the Himalayas mountains to Canton China were he later settled in the Sharolin Temple and began teaching these forms of exercises which evolved into the various forms of kung-fu and kempo. These foams quickly spread throughout China were it eventually came to Okinawan.
Okinawan was a trading port for China and Japan. About 300 years age the Satsuma clan of Japan invaded Okinawan and banded the use of all weapons. At this time the Okinawann's developed their own form of martial arts from the Chinese and called it Okinawann-Te, which means Okinawann hand. They used these forms to defend themselves against the bandits and samurai of the time. Since the use of swords was forbidden they developed there every day tools into weapons, such as the bo, sai, tonfa, kama and nunchaku.
In Shuri Okinawan of the year 1867 Gichin Funakoshi was born. He is considered to be the father of modern karate and to have had the greatest influence over the arts. Mr. Funakoshi was born prematurely he was not expected to live long, and was introduced to karate at the early age of ten. His two main teachers were, Azato and Itosu. These two instructors taught Funakoshi the two main styles of the time, shorin ryu and shorei ryu (or the hard and soft styles). By profession Funakoshi was a schoolteacher and a poet.
On March 6, 1921 the crown prince of Japan visited Okinawan, while there he saw a demonstration of karate by Funakoshi. and in 1922 he had the Ministry of Education arrange for Funakoshi to come to Japan and give a demonstration. After the demonstration he stayed in Japan was he began to teach the art of karate.
In 1936 his students built him the first karate dojo and placed a sign on the building with the characters of Shotokan Karate. Funakoshi was also a poet and his pen name was shoto meaning "pine waves", kan meaning "home". Hence the Shotokan translates into "pine wave home".
On April 26, 1957 Mr. Funakoshi passed away at the age of 90, leaving thousands of students to carry on his teachings in the Japanese art of Shotokan Karate.
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