History Of Karate
Karate began as a common fighting system known as "ti" (or "te") among the pechin class of the Ryukyuans. After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan in 1372, many forms of Chinese martial arts were introduced to the Ryukyu Islands by the visitors from China, particularly Fujian Province. A group of 36 Chinese families moved to Okinawa around 1392 for the purpose of cultural exchange, where they established
the community of Kumemura and shared their knowledge of a wide variety of Chinese arts and sciences, including the Chinese martial arts. The political
centralization of Okinawa by King Shō Hashi in 1429 and the 'Policy of Banning Weapons,' enforced in Okinawa after the invasion of the Shimazu clan in 1609, are also factors that furthered the development of unarmed combat techniques in Okinawa.
There were few formal styles of ti, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. One surviving example
is the Motobu-ryū school passed down from the Motobu family by Seikichi Uehara. Early styles of karate are often generalized as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, named after the three cities from which they emerged. Each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local version of
ti from the others.
Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines.
The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese wu shu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance
to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced "Gōjūken" in Japanese). Further influence came from Southeast Asia— particularly Sumatra, Java, and Melaka. Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have originated in and around Southeast Asia.
Sakukawa Kanga (1782–1838) had studied pugilism and staff (bo) fighting in China (according to one legend, under the guidance of Kosokun, originator of kusanku kata). In 1806 he started teaching a fighting art in the city of Shuri that he called "Tudi Sakukawa," which meant "Sakukawa of China Hand." This was the first known recorded reference to the
art of "Tudi," written as 唐手. Around the 1820s Sakukawa's most significant student Matsumura Sōkon (1809–1899) taught a synthesis of te (Shuri-te and Tomari-te) and Shaolin (Chinese 少林) styles. Matsumura's style would later become the Shōrin-ryū style.
Grandfather of Modern Karate
Matsumura taught his art to Itosu Ankō (1831–1915) among others. Itosu adapted two forms he had learned from Matsumara. These are kusanku and chiang
nan. He created the ping'an forms ("heian" or "pinan" in Japanese) which are simplified kata for
beginning students. In 1901 Itosu helped to get karate introduced into Okinawa's public schools. These forms were taught to
children at the elementary school level. Itosu's influence in karate is broad. The forms he created are common across nearly
all styles of karate. His students became some of the most well known karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Motobu Chōki. Itosu is sometimes referred to as "the Grandfather of Modern Karate."
In 1881 Higaonna Kanryō returned from China after years of instruction with Ryu Ryu Ko and founded what would become Naha-te. One of his students was the founder of Gojū-ryū, Chōjun Miyagi. Chōjun Miyagi taught such well-known karateka as An'ichi Miyagi(teacher of Morio Higaonna),Seko Higa (who also trained with Higaonna), Meitoku Yagi, Miyazato Ei'ichi, and Seikichi Toguchi.
In addition to the three early ti styles of karate a fourth Okinawan influence is that of Kanbun Uechi (1877–1948). At the age of 20 he went to Fuzhou in Fujian Province, China, to escape Japanese military conscription. While there he studied under Shushiwa. He was a leading
figure of Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken at that time. He later developed his own style of Uechi-ryū karate based on the Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu kata that he had studied in China.
Masters of karate in Tokyo
Kanken Toyama, Hironori Ohtsuka, Takeshi Shimoda, Gichin Funakoshi,
Motobu Chōki, Kenwa Mabuni, Genwa Nakasone, and Shinken Taira (from left to right)
Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate, is generally credited with having introduced and popularized karate on the main islands of Japan. Actually many Okinawans
were actively teaching, and are thus equally responsible for the development of karate. Funakoshi was a student of both Asato Ankō and Itosu Ankō (who had worked to introduce karate to the Okinawa Prefectural School System in 1902). During this time period, prominent
teachers who also influenced the spread of karate in Japan included Kenwa Mabuni, Chōjun Miyagi, Motobu Chōki, Kanken Tōyama, and Kanbun Uechi. This was a turbulent period in history in the region. It includes Japan's annexation of the Okinawan island group in 1872,
the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), the annexation of Korea, and the rise of Japanese militarism (1905–1945).
Japan was invading China at the time, and Funakoshi knew that the art of Tang/China hand would not be accepted; thus the change of the art's name to "way of the empty hand." The dō suffix implies that
karatedō is a path to self knowledge, not just a study of the technical aspects of fighting. Like most martial
arts practiced in Japan, karate made its transition from -jutsu to -dō around the beginning of the 20th
century. The "dō" in "karate-dō" sets it apart from karate "jutsu", as aikido is distinguished from aikijutsu, judo from jujutsu, kendo from kenjutsu and iaido from iaijutsu.
Founder of Shotokan Karate
Funakoshi changed the names of many kata and the name of the art itself (at least on mainland Japan), doing so to get karate
accepted by the Japanese budō organization Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. Funakoshi also gave Japanese names to many of the kata. The five pinan forms became known as heian, the three
naihanchi forms became known as tekki, seisan as hangetsu, Chintō as gankaku,
wanshu as empi, and so on. These were mostly political changes, rather than changes to the content of the forms,
although Funakoshi did introduce some such changes. Funakoshi had trained in two of the popular branches of Okinawan karate
of the time, Shorin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū. In Japan he was influenced by kendo, incorporating some ideas about
distancing and timing into his style. He always referred to what he taught as simply karate, but in 1936 he built a dojo in
Tokyo and the style he left behind is usually called Shotokan after this dojo.
The modernization and systemization of karate in Japan also included the adoption of the white uniform that consisted of
the kimono and the dogi or keikogi—mostly called just karategi—and colored belt ranks. Both of these innovations were originated and popularized by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo
and one of the men Funakoshi consulted in his efforts to modernize karate.
In 1922, Hironori Ohtsuka attended the Tokyo Sports Festival, where he saw Funakoshi's karate. Ohtsuka was so impressed with this that he visited Funakoshi
many times during his stay. Funakoshi was, in turn, impressed by Ohtsuka's enthusiasm and determination to understand karate,
and agreed to teach him. In the following years, Ohtsuka set up a medical practice dealing with martial arts injuries. His
prowess in martial arts led him to become the Chief Instructor of Shindō Yōshin-ryū jujutsu at the age of 30, and an assistant instructor in Funakoshi's dojo.
By 1929, Ohtsuka was registered as a member of the Japan Martial Arts Federation. Okinawan karate at this time was only
concerned with kata. Ohtsuka thought that the full spirit of budō, which concentrates on defence and attack, was missing, and that kata techniques did not work in realistic fighting situations.
He experimented with other, more combative styles such as judo, kendo, and aikido. He blended the practical and useful elements
of Okinawan karate with traditional Japanese martial arts techniques from jujitsu and kendo, which led to the birth of kumite, or free fighting, in karate. Ohtsuka thought that there was a need for this more dynamic type of karate to be taught, and
he decided to leave Funakoshi to concentrate on developing his own style of karate: Wadō-ryū. In 1934, Wadō-ryū
karate was officially recognized as an independent style of karate. This recognition meant a departure for Ohtsuka from his
medical practice and the fulfilment of a life's ambition—to become a full-time martial artist.
Ohtsuka's personalized style of Karate was officially registered in 1938 after he was awarded the rank of Renshi-go.
He presented a demonstration of Wadō-ryū karate for the Japan Martial Arts Federation. They were so impressed with
his style and commitment that they acknowledged him as a high-ranking instructor. The next year the Japan Martial Arts Federation
asked all the different styles to register their names; Ohtsuka registered the name Wadō-ryū. In 1944, Ohtsuka was
appointed Japan's Chief Karate Instructor.
Isshin-ryū is a style of Okinawan karate founded by Shimabuku Tatsuo, a student of Motobu Chōki, and named by him on January 15, 1956. Isshin-ryū karate is largely a synthesis of Shorin-ryū
karate, Gojū-ryū karate, and Kobudō. The name means, literally, "one heart method." The style, while not very
popular in Okinawa, spread to the United States via the Marines stationed on the island after they returned home, and has
also spread to other countries. After the passing of Shimabuku, many variations of the system formed and exist to this day.
A new form of karate called Kyokushin was formally founded in 1957 by Masutatsu Oyama (who was born a Korean, Choi Yeong-Eui). Kyokushin is largely a synthesis of Shotokan and Gojū-ryū. It teach a
curriculum that emphasize contact, physical toughness, and full contact sparring. Because of its emphasis on physical, full-force sparring, Kyokushin is now often called "full contact karate", or "Knockdown karate" (after the name for its competition rules). Many other karate organizations and styles are descended from the Kyokushin
The World Karate Federation recognizes these styles of karate in its kata list
The World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO) recognizes these styles of karate in its kata list.
Many schools would be affiliated with, or heavily influenced by, one or more of these styles.
Karate can be practiced as budō, as a sport, as a combat sport, or as self defense training. Traditional karate places emphasis on self development (budō). Modern Japanese style training emphasizes the psychological elements incorporated into a proper kokoro (attitude)
such as perseverance, fearlessness, virtue, and leadership skills. Sport karate places emphasis on exercise and competition.
Weapons (kobudō) is important training activity in some styles.
Karate training is commonly divided into kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
Karate styles place varying importance on kihon. Typically this is performance in unison of a technique or a combination
of techniques by a group of karateka. Kihon may also be prearranged drills in smaller groups or in pairs.
in Naihanchi-dachi, one of the basic karate stances
Kata (型:かた) means literally "shape" or "model." Kata is a formalized sequence of movements which represent various
attack and defense postures. These postures are based on idealized combat applications.
Some kata use low and wide stances. This practice develops leg strength, correct posture, and gracefulness. Vigorous arm
movements enhance cardiovascular fitness and upper body strength. Kata vary in number of movements and difficulty. The longer
kata require the karateka to learn many complex movements. Diligent training and correct mindfulness lead to real understanding
of combat principles.
Physical routines were a logical way to preserve this type of knowledge. The various moves have multiple interpretations and applications. Because the applicability for actual self-defense is so flexible there is no definitively correct way to
interpret all kata. That is why only high ranking practitioners are qualified to judge adequate form for their own style.
Some of the criteria for judging the quality of a performance are: Absence of missteps; correct beginning and especially ending;
crispness and smoothness; correct speed and power; confidence; and knowledge of application. Kata with the same name are often
performed differently in other styles of karate. Kata are taught with minor variations among schools of the same style. Even
the same instructor will teach a particular kata slightly differently as the years pass.
To attain a formal rank the karateka must demonstrate competent performance of specific required kata for that level. The
Japanese terminology for grades or ranks is commonly used. Requirements for examinations vary among schools.
Sparring in Karate is called kumite (組手:くみて). It literally means "meeting of hands." Kumite is
practiced both as a sport and as self-defense training.
Levels of physical contact during sparring vary considerably. Full contact karate has several variants. Knockdown karate (such as Kyokushin) uses full power techniques to bring an opponent to the ground. In Kickboxing variants ( for example K-1), the preferred win is by knockout. Sparring in armour (bogu kumite) allows full power techniques with some safety. Sport kumite is free or structured with non-contact (or more correctly limited-contact), light contact, semi contact or full-contact, and points are awarded by a referee.
In structured kumite (Yakusoku - prearranged), two participants perform a choreographed series of techniques with
one striking while the other blocks. The form ends with one devastating technique (Hito Tsuki).
In free sparring (Jiyu Kumite), the two participants have a free choice of scoring techniques. The allowed techniques and
contact level are primarily determined by sport or style organization policy, but might be modified according to the age,
rank and sex of the participants. Depending upon style, take-downs, sweeps and in some rare cases even time-limited grappling on the ground are also allowed.
Free sparring is performed in a marked or closed area. The bout runs for a fixed time (2 to 3 minutes.) The time can run
continuously (Iri Kume) or be stopped for referee judgment. In light contact or semi contact kumite, points are awarded based on the criteria: good form, sporting attitude, vigorous application, awareness/zanshin, good timing and correct distance. In full contact karate kumite, points are based on the results of the impact, rather than the formal appearance of the scoring technique.
In the bushidō tradition dojo kun is a set of guidelines for karateka to follow. These guidelines apply both in the dojo (training hall) and in everyday life.
Okinawan karate uses supplementary training known as hojo undo. This utilizes simple equipment made of wood and stone. The makiwara is a striking post. The nigiri game is a large jar used for developing grip strength. These supplementary exercises are designed to increase strength, stamina, speed, and muscle coordination. Sport Karate emphasises aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, power, agility, flexibility, and stress management. All practices vary depending upon the school and the teacher.
Gichin Funakoshi (船越 義珍) said, "There are no contests in karate." In pre-World War II Okinawa, kumite was not part of karate training. Shigeru Egami relates that, in 1940, some karateka were ousted from their dojo because they adopted sparring after having learned it in
Karate is divided into style organizations. These organizations sometimes cooperates in non-style specific Sport karate
organizations or federations. Examples of sport organizations are WKF, WUKO and WKC . Style organizations hold competitions from local to international level, but unlike the sport organizations they tend
to be for members of that style organization and specially invited guests, only. Some style organizations, like the many different
kyokushinkai style organizations, do not cooperate regularly with any sport organization/federation, but prefer to stay within their own
system and compete with their own rules.
The World Karate Federation (WKF) is the largest sport karate organization, and it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as being responsible for karate competition in the Olympic games. The WKF has developed common rules governing all
styles. The national WKF organisations coordinate with their respective National Olympic Committees.
Karate does not have 2012 Olympic status. In the 117th IOC Session (July 2005), karate received more than half of the votes, but not the two-thirds majority
needed to become an official Olympic sport.
WKF karate competition has two disciplines: sparring (kumite) and forms (kata) Competitors may enter either as individuals or as part of a team. Evaluation for kata and kobudō is performed by
a panel of judges, whereas sparring is judged by a head referee, usually with assistant referees at the side of the sparring
area. Sparring matches are typically divided by weight, age, gender, and experience.
The WKF accepts only one organization per country. The World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO) offers different styles and federations a world body they may join, without having to compromise their style or size.
The WUKO accepts more than one federation or association per country.
Different karate style and sport organizations use different competition rule systems, ranging from light contact as used in the WKF, WUKO and WKC kumite rule sets, to full contact karate as seen in the Knockdown karate rules variations used by the Kyokushinkai, Ashihara karate, Shidokan and Seidokaikan (and many other) style organizations. Or the Bogu kumite rules variant known as Koshiki karate (full contact with heavy protective padding) used in the All Japan Koshiki Karate-Do Federation  sport organization. Still other sport organizations like the Shinkaratedo Federation  in Japan, use Gloved karate rules (called so because they wear boxing gloves) that resembles kickboxing.
A young student graduates up a rank in belt in front of his dojo
In 1924 Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate, adopted the Dan system from judo founder Jigoro Kano using a rank scheme with a limited set of belt colors. Other Okinawan teachers also adopted this practice. In the Kyū/Dan system the beginner grades start with a higher numbered kyū (e.g., 9th Kyū) and progress toward a lower
numbered kyū. The Dan progression continues from 1st Dan (Shodan, or 'beginning dan') to the higher dan grades. Kyū-grade
karateka are referred to as "color belt" or mudansha ("ones without dan"). Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha
(holders of dan rank). Yudansha typically wear a black belt. Requirements of rank differ among styles, organizations, and schools. Kyū ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination. Speed and power are added at higher grades. Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting promotion. Testing consists of demonstration
of techniques before a panel of examiners. This will vary by school, but testing may include everything learned at that point,
or just new information. The demonstration is an application for new rank (shinsa) and may include kata, bunkai, self-defense, routines, tameshiwari (breaking), and/or kumite (sparring). Black belt testing may also include a written examination.
For more information on dishonest practice in the martial arts, see McDojo
Due to the popularity of martial arts, both in mass media and reality, a large number of disreputable, fraudulent, or misguided teachers and schools have arisen,
approximately over the last 40 years. Commonly referred to as a "McDojo" or a "Black Belt Mill," these schools are commonly headed by martial artists of either dubious skill or business ethics.
Gichin Funakoshi interpreted the "kara" of Karate-dō to mean "to purge [oneself] of selfish and evil thoughts. For
only with a clear mind and conscience can [the practitioner] understand that [knowledge] which he receives." Funakoshi believed
that one should be "inwardly humble and outwardly gentle." Only by behaving humbly can one be open to Karate's many lessons.
This is done by listening and being receptive to criticism. He considered courtesy of prime importance. He said that "Karate
is properly applied only in those rare situations in which one really must either down another or be downed by him." Funakoshi
did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime.
He stated that Karate practitioners must "never be easily drawn into a fight." It is understood that one blow from a real
expert could mean death. It is clear that those who misuse what they have learned bring dishonor upon themselves. He promoted
the character trait of personal conviction. In "time of grave public crisis, one must have the courage...to face a million
and one opponents." He taught that indecisiveness is a weakness.
Hypothetically, any unarmed combat system could accurately be called "karate" since the Japanese phrase literally means
"empty hand." This is not necessarily an acceptable conclusion. To separate fact from fancy requires understanding issues
of nationalism, lineage, primacy, and philosophy.
Karate was originally written as Chinese hand in kanji. It was later changed to a homophone meaning empty hand. The original use of the word karate in print is attributed to Ankō Itosu. He wrote it with the kanji 唐手:からて (Tang Dynasty hand) rather than the present usage of 空手:からて (empty hand). The Tang Dynasty of China ended in AD 907. The kanji representing it remained in use in Okinawa as a way to refer to China generally. Thus the word karate was originally a way of expressing "Chinese hand," or "martial art from China."
Since there are no written records it is not known definitely whether the kara in karate was originally written
with the character 唐 meaning China or the character 空 meaning empty. During the time when admiration for China
and things Chinese was at its height in the Ryūkyūs it was the custom to use the former character when referring
to things of fine quality...
It should be noted that use of the written character is possibly linked to the origins of karate from China.
The original use of "Chinese hand," "Tang hand," “Chinese fist,” or "Chinese techniques" (depending on interpretation of 唐手) reflects the
documented Chinese influence on karate. The first documented use of a homophone of the logogram pronounced kara by replacing the character meaning Tang Dynasty (唐 から) with the character meaning empty (空 から) took place in Karate Kumite.
This is a book by Hanashiro Chōmo (1869–1945) which was published in August 1905. In the early 20th century Japan did not have good relations with China.
In 1932 Japan attacked China and occupied its northern territory. At that time referring to Chinese origins of karate was
considered politically incorrect. 
In 1933, the Okinawan art of karate was recognized as a Japanese martial art by the Japanese Martial Arts Committee known
as the "Butoku Kai". Until 1935, "karate" was written as "唐手" (Chinese hand). But in 1935, the masters of the
various styles of Okinawan karate conferred to decide a new name for their art. They decided to call their art "karate" written
in Japanese characters as "空手" (empty hand).
Another nominal development is the addition of dō (道:どう) to the end of the word karate. Dō is a suffix having numerous meanings including
road, path, route, and way. It is used in many martial arts that survived Japan's transition from feudal culture to modern
times. It implies that these arts are not just fighting systems but contain spiritual elements when promoted as disciplines.
In this context dō is usually translated as "the way of." Examples are aikido (合気道:あいきどう),
judo (柔道:じゅうどう), and kendo (剣道:けんどう).
Thus karatedō is more than just empty hand techniques. It is The Way Of The Empty Hand.
Karate outside Japan
Due to past conflict between Korea and Japan, most notably during the Japanese occupation in the 20th century, the influence of karate on Korean martial arts is a contentious issue. From 1910 until 1939, many Koreans
migrated to Japan and were exposed to Japanese martial arts. After regaining independence from Japan, many Korean martial arts schools
were founded by masters with training in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean martial arts.
For example, Hong Hi Choi, a significant figure in taekwondo history, studied Shotokan karate in Japan. Karate also provided an important comparative model for the early founders of taekwondo in the formalization of their
art inheriting some kata and the belt rank system. It should be noted that contemporary taekwondo is technically very different from karate (e.g. relies much more on legs than hands, involves high kicks on the heels, more
Karate appeared in the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s, during Khruschev's policy of improved international relations. The first Shotokan clubs were opened in Moscow's universities. In 1973, however, the government banned karate—together with all other foreign martial arts—endorsing only
the Soviet martial art of sambo. Failing to suppress these uncontrolled groups, the USSR's Sport Committee formed the Karate Federation of USSR in December
1978. On 17 May 1984, the Soviet Karate Federation was disbanded and all karate became illegal again. In 1989, karate practice
became legal again, but under strict government regulations, only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992 did independent karate schools resume functioning, and so federations were formed and national tournaments in authentic
After World War II, members of the US military learned karate in Okinawa or Japan and then opened schools in the USA. In 1945 Robert Trias opened the first martial arts school in the United States in Phoenix, Arizona, a Shuri-ryū karate dojo. In the 1950s,
Edward Kaloudis, William Dometrich (Chitō-ryū), Ed Parker (Kenpo), Cecil Patterson (Wadō-ryū), Gordon Doversola (Okinawa-te), Louis Kowlowski, Don Nagle (Isshin-ryū),
George Mattson (Uechi-ryū), and Peter Urban (Gōjū-kai) all began instructing in the US.
In the 1960s, Jay Trombley (Gōjū-ryū), Anthony Mirakian (Gōjū-ryū), Steve Armstrong, Bruce
Terrill, Richard Kim (Shorinji-ryū), Teruyuki Okazaki (Shotokan), John Pachivas, Allen Steen, Sea Oh Choi (Hapkido),
Gosei Yamaguchi (Gōjū-ryū), and J Pat Burleson all began teaching martial arts around the country.
In 1961 Hidetaka Nishiyama, a co-founder of the JKA and student of Masatoshi Nakayama, began teaching in the United States. Takayuki Mikami were sent to New Orleans by the JKA in 1963.
In 1964, Takayuki Kubota, founder of Gosoku-ryū, relocated the International Karate Association from Tokyo to California.
In 1970 Paul Arel founded Kokondo Karate which is a sister style of Jukido Jujitsu developed in 1959.
In the 1950s and 1960s, several Japanese karate masters began to teach the art in the United Kingdom. In 1965, Tatsuo Suzuki began teaching Wadō-ryū in London. In 1966, members of the former British Karate Federation
established the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) under Hirokazu Kanazawa as chief instructor and affiliated to JKA. Keinosuke Enoeda came to England at the same time as Kanazawa, teaching at a dojo in Liverpool. Kanazawa left the UK after 3 years and Enoeda
took over. After Enoeda’s death in 2003, the KUGB elected Andy Sherry as Chief Instructor. Shortly after this, a new
association split off from KUGB, JKA England. Also The Cobra Martial Association www.cmaauk.com established 2002 has grown to be a national sopporting body catering for instructors and students
for all styles around the UK& Eire.
Film and popular culture
Karate spread rapidly in the West through popular culture. In 1950s popular fiction, karate was at times described to readers
in near-mythical terms, and it was credible to show Western experts of unarmed combat as unaware of Eastern martial arts of this kind. By the 1970s, martial arts films had formed a mainstream genre that propelled karate and other Asian martial arts into mass popularity.
The Karate Kid (1984) is a film relating the fictional story of an American adolescent's introduction into karate.