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Shotokan Karate History 歴史

The two Chinese characters KARA and TE make up the ideographs in Japan for the word Karate, and thus denote that it is of Chinese origin. In the sixth century an Indian Monk named Bodhidharma journeyed from Asia to China to establish the Zen School of Buddhism. His teaching began at the Shaolin Temple. Because most of the monks were weak and found that physical exercise was too exhausting, Bodhidharma devised a training method that would assist the monks both physically and mentally so that they could continue their Zen practice.

The word Karate means "empty hand" ~ kara meaning empty and te meaning hand. It is an art which teaches us self defence by using our arms and legs as controlled weapons.

Master Gichin Funakoshi 船越 義珍(1868-1957) was the father of modern-day karate. He was born in Shuri, Okinawan Perfection in 1868. He began his karate training in his childhood, primarily with Yasutsune Azato (1827-1906) and Yasuntsune Itosu (1830-1915). His other passion was calligraphy and poetry writing. He would sign his work by using his pen name - Shoto. The name Shotokan means the School of Waving Pines; Shoto means waving pines and Kan means school or home.

In 1922, it was whilst Funakoshi was lecturing at the Okinawan Teachers' College that he was given the opportunity to lecture and demonstrate his art of karate. The event was sponsored by the Ministry of Education. After such demonstration, Funakoshi received endless of requests for him to teach in Tokyo.

Shotokan was formed in 1936, a true landmark in karate's history. In 1955, the JKA (Japan Karate Association) was established with Funakoshi as Chief Instructor. Master Gichin Funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of 88.