Karate - The Origins and Evolution of Traditional Japanese Karate

Posted by Staff on Apr 20, 2024

Gichin Funakoshi was a quiet Okinawan teacher, traveled to Tokyo in the early 1900s to show Karate for an exhibition. Though the xenophobic Japanese officials and judo instructors initially viewed his demonstration with apprehension however they were impressed enough to allow him to remain in Japan. Funakoshi changed the name of his art because he knew that "China hand" wouldn't be popular in Japan. He added the suffix "do," meaning path of discipline. Origins While the majority of people believe that karate is associated with Japan it actually started in the archipelago island of Okinawa. Okinawa had been separated from mainland Japan for decades. The first karate was an amalgamation of indigenous combat techniques known as te, or empty hand, and Chinese kenpo. It wasn't until the 1920s when it was recognized as a martial arts in mainland Japan. Many of the most well-known karate features, like the uniform and the ranking system by the color of the belt was not made public until then. In its early days Karate was used for self-defense, and to build endurance, strength, and character. Samurai, who were the highest rank warriors in Japan's warrior class, honed their combat techniques through a rigorous regimen and developed what is now called budo. Today, the art is not used for combat anymore but instead to improve your mental and spiritual health through physical and psychological training. Sakukawa Kanga is often credited with the invention of karate. He was a student of pugilism and Bo in China. In 1806 he set up his own karate school in Okinawa and began teaching the katas he studied. He modified them so that they were more attainable for his students. Anko Itosu was one of his students. He was a major influence on modern karate. Itosu was the first instructor in karate to break the samurai's customary shroud of secrecy to teach his techniques publicly. He simplified the techniques that he was taught order to make them easier for novices to master, and was the first to use a kata journal to record his techniques for fighting. He also changed some kata names, such as changing the five pinan kata into the Heian kata. These changes were done to keep the Dai Nippon Butoku Kai, the body that governs traditional Japanese martial arts, in good spirits. There are a myriad of Karate styles and schools in the present each with their own unique philosophies and subtleties. Some emphasize a competitive spirit and others are focused on self-defense and are used for fitness and personal development. All karate styles place an emphasis on physical and mental fitness, or kokoro. This is a combination of values like perseverance, bravery and virtuous. Techniques The term "karate" literally translates to "empty-hand." Students learn to defend themselves by using their own bodies. In the typical class, students begin by learning basic punches, blocks and kicks. As they progress through the ranks, students learn to use these techniques more powerfully and with greater control. The art also provides proper stance, footwork and turning. Okinawa was the first location where karate began to develop as a type of Chinese martial arts. They merged with the local fighting arts of the island. They are also known as te. Tegumi (a type of unarmed combat) or Okinawa Te. Okinawa used to be an independent kingdom, known as the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was a major hub of trade that absorbed the influences of its neighbors. They combined to create a distinct culture in which karate plays a major role. Karate is a martial art that is founded on the Okinawan culture that was founded on the foundation of etiquette respect and honor. Satsuma the samurai clan that ruled Okinawa in the late 17th century. The clan was against the practice of martial arts based on weapons and te was taught secretly. This period is considered to be the beginning of modern karate. In the late nineteenth century, te developed into the three main styles of karate used today. Naha-te morphed into Gojo-ryu. Shuri-te was transformed into Shotokan karate and Tomari-te merged into a style dubbed Shito-ryu. The three karate schools reflected the traditional Okinawan philosophies. They emphasize the integration between soft and hard techniques, using flowing movements to defeat stronger opponents. After World War II, karate became more well-known than ever in Japan. Gichin Funakoshi began targeting university students and white-collar office workers who were more open to his methods. He quickly gained a massive following. The Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (the organization that oversees traditional Japanese Martial Arts such as sumo wrestlers and kendo) recognized karate as an official art by 1935. The popularity of karate in the West has been around since Japan first opened its doors to foreigners and allowed them to experience the Japanese culture. Sherlock Holmes escaped a death plunge when he was fighting Moriarty using his bartitsu techniques, an Edwardian British combat form that was not armed. Teddy Roosevelt, in 1904, enrolled in judo in the White House. The interest in the art of unarmed combat grew further after the end of World War II, when many thousands of American servicemen stationed in Japan took up the art. Forms Karate, which translates to "empty hand" is a non-armed martial art that emphasizes kicks and punches. Karate's methods include blocking and restraining with arms and legs. The body's striking surfaces include the hands (especially the edges and knuckles), feet, ball of the foot, heel, knee forearm, elbow and forearm. The hardness of striking surfaces is increased by training on padded and wooden targets, like pine boards up to a few inches thick. In karate timing, strategy, and spirit also play a role. While the exact origins of Karate aren't known, it is believed that it developed from a form of Okinawan self-defense, known as ti or Kempo. The centuries-long evolution of karate began when trade relations were established with China and martial arts from Southeast Asia filtered into Okinawa. Under the reign of Sho Shin, the King of Okinawa Sho Shin (1477-1526) the ti style was highly influenced by Chinese Kung Fu, and was later renamed te meaning "hand" in the Ryukyuan language. Eventually, three different styles of te emerged from the cities of Shuri, Naha and Tomari. Each had their own distinct techniques and are the basis of modern karate styles such as Shotokan and Shito-Ryu Anko Itosu who was a well-known Okinawan Karate master was credited with bringing fame to Karate in Japan in the early 20th century. He started schools in Japan and taught karate from his own school, located in Naha. The art's spread was further encouraged by Gichin Funakoshi who brought karate to the attention of mainland Japanese in 1922. There are many types of karate, some focusing on combat that is violent while others focus on virtues like perseverance and humility. Karate can be used as an art of martial arts as a sport, or as a method of self-defense. Training is usually divided into kihon (sparring) as well as Kata (kata) and Kihon. Karate is renowned for its striking and kicking techniques but it also combines numerous throwing techniques, like body-throws and joint lock throws and unbalanced throws. It also uses restraining methods like blocking, grappling and escape. Karate uses minor weapons like the Jiufundo Kusari (weighted chains) as well as tanto (daggers) and kakushi Buki (empty-hand knives) in addition to hands, feet and head. Karate is a self-defense art that employs techniques employing the neck, groin, and various chokeholds. History In the early 1600's Okinawa experienced a period of political turmoil. Many Okinawans developed a secret method of combat that was unarmed, known as kata, to defend their families and. The martial arts system was based on techniques developed under the influence of Chinese martial arts, which had more than two thousand years of history. This is what we call traditional karate. The system was taught in a dojo or training hall or dojo. The teacher, or Sensei, was the one who established and maintained the dojo. The name of the dojo is usually a combination of the pen name of the teacher and the location of the dojo, such as Shotokan named after the region in Tokyo where Funakoshi founded his first karate school. In the early 1900's, Funakoshi brought karate to mainland Japan. He played a major role in modernizing the martial art and adjusting it to a more educated public. His contributions include the introduction of kata (pre-arranged forms) and uniforms that were standardized, and colored belt ranks. Funakoshi introduced Karate-do as an instructional method that combines discipline respect, respect and ethics. He also made the spiritual and physical aspects of Karate more accessible to everyone of everyone of all ages and backgrounds. His philosophy and teaching principles continue to be the basis of today's karate schools. From the time of World War II, karate was largely unknown to the world. However, it was a favorite among tens of thousands of American G.I.s stationed in Okinawa who were exposed to the martial art in their leisure time. At this time there were a variety of styles of karate developed in Okinawa. These styles were heavily influenced by the three main cities, Shuri, Naha, and Tamarai. Modern karate styles such as Shotokan Shito-Ryu, and Goju-ryu were taken from the styles of these cities. Other karate forms such as Kyokushin, Wado, and Wado Ryu are rooted more broadly in the Okinawan te style. Karate styles share some commonalities, including the focus on hand-tohand combat, and the use of joint-locking techniques. Each style has its own distinctive philosophy and features that set it apart from the rest. This proud tradition is something to think about next time you put on your karate gi.