A Brief History of Shotokan Karate
The history of Shotokan Karate, and the martial arts in general, can be traced back to India around 560 B.C.

At that time, Siddartha Gautama was a prince in northern India.  From his upbringing he was never allowed to leave the palace grounds. One day, with his curiosity getting the better of him, he looked outside only to see so many people suffering, in poverty.  With that he renounced his kingdom and set out on his sadhana in the forest to search for truth.
He searched for 14 years virtually alone in the jungles of India. One day, while sitting under a bodhi tree, he was enlightened then traveled all over Asia in order to teach others that same path to enlightenment.

He was now known as Buddha (the enlightened one). He made many disciples in India and all over Asia. Some years later one of his disciples Dham Ho traveled to China to teach people there. He realized that his body and those of his disciples were not strong enough to endure Sadhana, so he developed repetitive exercises that would strengthen the body, his disciples followed.

Eventually the Chinese developed the martial arts into Shaolin Gung-fu and Kempo. It was from the trading with the Chinese of Fukien Province, the Okinawins learned the art and eventually developed it into Okinawate.

At the time, Okinawate was not the only form of martial arts being developed in Japan; judo, and Samurai arts (kendo, horse riding, bo etc.) had all stemmed from Zen Buddhism (the Japanese adaptation of Buddhism).

During 1700's to early 1900's, weapons were prohibited in Japan. Okinawins secretly trained in karate and had done things like incorporating martial arts movements into their dance in order to confuse imperial inspectors from Satsuma, who were there to insure strict following of the prohibition. Okinawins also learned to adapt there farming tools as weapons, which would later integrate themselves with karate.

Pictured below is Gichin Funakoshi, Born 1889 in Okinawa, Japan. He  was a sickly child not expected to live long. He surpassed all expectations and went on to live his entire life and became a Master and Guru of karate-do. 
Being born into a shizouka class family, he learned the 5 Confucian classics at an early age. His family however didn't have the honor an upper class family that was normally demanded.They lived in a rented house and although his father was an accomplished dancer, singer and a bo expert, he was also an alcoholic. Master Funakoshi survived through more than one peril, but always continued in good spirit as karate became a more important part of his life every day. Training under karate masters Itsou and Azato, he eventually standardized karate throughout Japan, by the introduction of the belt system and standard kata although he wasn't the only one to know them, he formally introduced Bassai, Chinto, Sanchin, Jion, to name a few) through his books, such as Ryuku Kempo Karate and Karate Do Kyohan:   The Master Text
The name Shotokan translates to "Shoto's Place", Shoto being Funakoshi's pen name at the time. 

The tiger symbol comes from the fact that Master Funakoshi regularly trained and meditated near a pine lake, which was shaped like a tiger.

Today, Shotokan Karate continues to be practiced all over the World, a result that is much owed to Master Gichin Funakoshi.