History Of Karate

What is the history of Karate? What are its origins? Where did Karate come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Karate.

Karate History

Which Country Started Karate?

Karate began in Okinawa, Japan. At the time, weapons were banned by Japanese forces, so locals had to figure out how to defend themselves. As a result, they came up with Karate, which means “empty hands” in Japanese. 

Although karate is Japanese, there is very little information about where it got its influence from. One legend says that it came from India thousands of years ago, and it was brought to China by a Buddhist monk by the name of Bodhidarma. He arrived to teach Zen Buddhism and a style of boxing that made the body and mind strong.

Who Invented Karate?

Karate was first known as Te, a fighting style used by people in the Ryukyu islands of Japan. It was first taught by Sakugawa Kanga and Sokon Matsumura. Te was popular in the cities of Shuri, Naha, and Tomari. This style would later grow and become modern day karate. 

Many believe that Gichin Funakoshi invented karate in its most modern form. Born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868, Funakoshi was training under the teachers of Anko Itosu, and Yasutsune.  As an adult, Gichin became a master in karate. As a result, Hirohito, the crown prince of Japan, visited him in Okinawa for a public demonstration. He would later develop the style of shotokan karate, which is considered modern karate. 

When was Karate Established?

Karate dates back to the early 1600s. During this time, the ruler King Shoha banned the possession of weapons on the island of Okinawa. As a result, the Satsuma clan invaded Okinawa and karate was developed afterwards so people can defend themselves with unarmed combat. 

Gichin Funakoshi and his followers established the Japanese Karate Association in 1948 to promote karate. In 1955, the first headquarters dojo was built in Yotsuya, Tokyo. Karate was now an established part of society.

In 1949, the Japanese Karate Association (JKA) was developed by Gichin Funakoshi, and his followers. After World War II, JKA master instructors emigrated to different parts of the world to teach karate. The martial art then spread in popularity all throughout the world.

Shotokan karate, founded by Gichin, Funakoshi, is the most popular form of karate practiced today. It has over 6 million practitioners in 190 countries. Karate continues to grow to this day and is a popular martial art used for self defense.

Karate Timeline

Karate started off as the martial art of Te, around the 1600s. This was heavily influenced by the Chinese martial art kempo. The martial art would be illegal at first, so people would have to practice in secret. However, things changed in the 20th century.

In the beginning of this century, Anko Itosu, an early master of Te, was given permission to practice this martial art in public. He then taught Te in Okinawan schools. The number of students grew, and one of his students was Gichin Funakoshi, who helped found and popularize modern karate.

Gichin was the first Okinawan to introduce karate to Japan. In 1922, the Japanese Ministry of Education asked Gichin to teach in a martial arts demonstration in Tokyo. Gichin spent his life teaching this martial art and making it accessible for everybody to learn.

The Japanese Karate Organization was established in 1955. What started off as a demonstration for the people of Tokyo turned into an accredited organization. The development of the organization helped popularize the art all across the world.  

Gichin’s shotokan karate is now the most popular style of karate in the world. Some famous practitioners include UFC Light Heavyweight champion Lyodo Machina, who has his third degree blackbelt in shotokan karate. His brother has his fourth, and their father Yoshizo holds his seventh in the Japanese Karate Association in Brazil.

Karate will make its debut in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. People have been trying to introduce martial arts to the Olympics since the 1970s. In 2015, the Organizing Committee gave the proposal to add karate to the 2020 Olympic games.

Key Facts

  • In karate competitions, you win by scoring the most points with kicks, punches, or throws.
  • The founder of shotokan karate (modern day karate) is Gichin Funakoshi.
  • Karate became established in 1955 with the development of the Japanese Karate Association (JKA).
  • Today, there are 300 karate clubs affiliated with the JKA worldwide.