Karate originated in India and was introduced to China 3000 years ago. Tradition has it that an Indian Buddhist monk went to China in AD527 to establish the Zen school of Buddhism. He taught the monks of the Shaolin Temple the art of Zen, then devised a method of training to strengthen them physically and mentally, this he called Kempo. Kempo became the basis of Karate and Kung-Fu.
Following civil wars in Japan, during the 11th Century, many refugees fled to Okinawa, a small island SW of Japan. The Okinawans, mainly fishermen, were proficient in the Martial Arts and after a law passed in 1429 banned the use of weapons an even greater emphasis was placed on all forms of weapons fighting. During the late 1800's Japan put pressure on Okinawa to accept the Japanese Government system which they resisted and civil war again erupted. During this period unarmed combat became known as KARA-TE (empty hands).
1906 Okinawan schoolteacher Gichin Funakoshi gave a demonstration of Kara-Te. It was so impressive that Kara-Te became part of school curriculum.
1917 Sensei Funakoshi asked to give demonstration in Kyoto, Japan. Probably the first time that Kara-Te had been seen in Japan.
1923 Sensei Funakoshi moved to Japan and Kara-Te was taught in military and universities.
1928 Kara-Te accelerated across Japan.
1936 Sensei Funakoshi opened a permanent Dojo (training hall). His pen name at the time was SHOTO and therefore the place where he trained was called SHOTOKAN or SHOTO's hall.
1947 Sensei Funakoshi attempted to form an all styles Karate organisation called Japan Karate Association. This was rejected by other styles so the J.K.A. became Shotokan only.
1957 Sensei Funakoshi died and the J.K.A. handed to Sensei Nakayama who continued with his master's wishes and trained such famous instructors as Kanazawa, Kase and Shirai. These instructors were then sent all over the world to spread the word of Karate.
Karate in the 20th Century
The revered 'Shoto', bought modern day karate in to the world in the year 1906 where it quickly grew to become the most famous of martial arts.
3,000 Years of Karate
History to the Modern Day