|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.
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.
|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
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).
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.
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.
The name Shotokan
translates to "Shoto's Place", Shoto being Funakoshi's pen name at the
|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 tiger symbol
comes from the fact that Master Funakoshi regularly trained and meditated
near a pine lake, which was shaped like a tiger.
Karate continues to be practiced all over the World, a result that is much
owed to Master Gichin Funakoshi.