History of Karate

Karate is a Japanese word that means “Empty hand”. Karate does not use any weapon. In this discipline striking, kicking, and defensive blocking with legs and arms are employed. In this martial art, entire body power will be focused on the point of impact. It is the most effective self-defense discipline.

In its current form, karate is not more than 200 years old, but its roots have been dated a thousand years back. It was originated in Okinawa Island and over time it was influenced heavily by the Chinese martial art Kung Fu. 

Founder of Karate

Gichin Funakoshi is the founder of karate. He has been credited for introducing this popular game on the island of Japan.

Gichin Funakoshi

He is also being known as the “father of modern karate”. He introduced karate in 1922. He continues to teach karate in various universities of Japan and in 1949 he became the head of the Japan Karate Association. He learned karate from Anko Asato and Anko Itosu. 

When karate began?

Karate was born in Okinawa Island. It was introduced as a self-defense technique when the weapons were banned by Japanese forces.

Japan Karate

Natives of Ryukyu Island used this fighting style and it was influenced by Chinese families that were settled on Okinawa. From the three different cities of Okinawa, three different karate fighting styles emerged. 

  • Naha-te
  • Shuri-te
  • Tomari-te

Over time these three styles merged and left with only two. There is only a little information about the origin of karate. One theory about karate states that it came from India almost a thousand years ago. The historical background of karate is still under debate. The exact history of karate is lost. It happened because it was not written properly. There were strict rules at that time regarding the learning of martial arts. 

In the early days training took place secretly as weapons were not allowed. An empty hand technique evolves for self-defense. 

Some important dates in the history of karate

There are some significant dates that are associated with the history of karate. A brief detail is given below:

  • In 1905 karate was inducted in Okinawa’s physical education program.
  • Gichin Funakoshi gives the first public demonstration of karate-do in 1917.
  • Dr. Jano Kano invited Gichin Funakoshi for the demonstration at Kodokan Dojo it helps significantly in bringing karate-do to Japan. 
  • In Japan, for the teachings of karate the first university karate club was established in 1924 at the University of Keio. 
  • Karate makes its way to Canada in the 1930s. 
  • Karate masters of Okinawa meet to discuss karate in 1936. This meeting was sponsored by the Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper. 
  • First formal karate training school names as Shoto-Kan was established in 1939. 
  • 1945 was the year of the first dojo opening in the United States. 
  • Association of karate in Japan came into being in 1949.
  • During the 1950 karate was introduced in the UK.
  • Karate makes their way to the Soviet Union in the 1960s and in the next three decades they were banned and unbanned several times. 
  • Karate was legalized in the Soviet Union in 1989. 

The development of karate into the martial art

During the 20th century, Anko Itosu gained formal permission so that they can end the secrecy and can teach karate openly. He gained permission so those who are interested to learn martial arts can easily learn in their Okinawan schools. Further the student of Anko Itosu, Gichin Funakoshi expanded this in Japan in 1922. Many modifications were done by Gichin Funakoshi in this art and he also changed the name. 

When he was about to die he wants to make karate as the world martial art so he sends his best instructors in all around the world for the training of karate. Nowadays karate is widely practiced by millions of people all around the world. Although the exact history of karate is still not known the information shared by Anko Itosu and his student Gichin Funakoshi should never be forgotten. 

Karate Today

Karate-do is considered as modern karate and it has been taught all around the world. Right from the origin, this style continues to be modified and changing. Finally, four different styles of karate emerged. Such as 

  • Goju-ryu
  • Shito-ryu
  • Wado-ryu
  • Shotokan

In recent times karate emerged as the most popular sport. The World Karate Federation is considered as the largest karate organization. Lots of common rules and regulations of this sport have been developed by the WKF. It is not yet part of the Olympic games. WKF organization is recognized by the Olympic committee. 

History Of Karate

More about karate

It is an unarmed martial art technique. In this discipline entire body power is used on the instant striking point. In the practice of karate striking surfaces include heel, ball of the foot, knee, forearm, elbow, and hands. Karate experts can easily break few inches thick pine boards by bare hand or foot. In karate, tactics, spirit, and timing are equally important. 

Sporting matches generally last for almost three minutes. In case if both contestants failed to score a clean point decision is taken by the judges. In East Asia, karate evolved almost centuries ago. As it was prohibited in Japan to carry weapons, so in 1920, this martial art started to make its mark. Each training school was teaching differently. It has some techniques that are overlapping with other martial art techniques. Like some other Asian martial art techniques, karate is helpful in self-defense and maintaining fitness. 

As the history of karate unsure, some people say that it came from India, a few centuries ago. Some credit Japan for the invention of this martial art. Whatever the reality is it is excellent martial art. It has gained lots of popularity in recent years. There are almost millions of people all around the world practicing karate. Although it is yet to make an entrance in the Olympic Games, it can be said that sooner or later karate will be the part of the Olympics as well. 

Sky Hoon. About
Martial Art Fan
He started his love on martial arts by watching MMA and Angela Lee. He then started this blog to learn more about the different martial arts.
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