• Karate

Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. It developed from the indigenous Ryukyuan martial arts under the influence of Chinese Kung Fu, particularly Fujian White Crane.

                          Hanashiro Chomo

•The Ryukyu Kingdom was annexed by Japan in 1879. Karate was brought to Japan in the early 20th century during a time of migration as Ryukyuans, especially from Okinawa, looked for work in Japan. It was systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in mainland Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs.In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from (“Chinese hand” or “Tang hand”) to (“empty hand”) – both of which are pronounced karate in Japanese – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style. After World War II, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.

• The martial arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase the popularity of martial arts around the world, and in English the word karate began to be used in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Oriental martial arts.

• Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art.

• Shigeru Egami, Chief Instructor of Shotokan Dojo, opined that “the majority of followers of karate in overseas countries pursue karate only for its fighting techniques … Movies and television … depict karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow … the mass media present a pseudo art far from the real thing.” Soshin Nagamine said, “Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one’s own creative efforts.”

• On 28 September 2015, karate was featured on a shortlist along with baseball, softball, skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing to be considered for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics. On 1 June 2016, the International Olympic Committee’s executive board announced they were supporting the inclusion of all five sports (counting baseball and softball as only one sport) for inclusion in the 2020 Games.

• Web Japan (sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) claims there are 50 million karate practitioners worldwide, while the World Karate Federation claims there are 100 million practitioners around the world.

• History of karate

• Karate began as a common fighting system known as to (Okinawan: ti) among the Pechin class of the Ryukyuans. After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China in 1372 by King Satto of Chūzan, some forms of Chinese martial arts were introduced to the Ryukyu Islands by the visitors from China, particularly Fujian Province. A large group of Chinese families moved to Okinawa around 1392 for the purpose of cultural exchange, where they established the community of Kumemura and shared their knowledge of a wide variety of Chinese arts and sciences, including the Chinese martial arts. The political centralization of Okinawa by King Shō Hashi in 1429 and the policy of banning weapons by King Shō Shin in 1477, later enforced in Okinawa after the invasion by the Shimazu clan in 1609, are also factors that furthered the development of unarmed combat techniques in Okinawa.

• There were few formal styles of te, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. One surviving example is the Motobu-ryū school passed down from the Motobu family by Seikichi Uehara. Early styles of karate are often generalized as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, named after the three cities from which they emerged. Each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local version of te from the others.

• Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines. The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese Kung Fu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges and partly because of growing legal restrictions on the use of weaponry. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Tai Zu Quan (or Grand Ancestors Fist), Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard SoftFist; pronounced “Gojuken in Japanese).Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have originated in and around Southeast Asia.

• Sakukawa Kanga (1782 – 1838) had studied pugilism and staff (bo) fighting in China (according to one legend, under the guidance of Kosokun, originator of kusanku kata). In 1806 he started teaching a fighting art in the city of Shuri that he called “Tudi Sakukawa,” which meant “Sakukawa of China Hand.” This was the first known recorded reference to the art of “Tudi,” written as 唐手. Around the 1820s Sakukawa’s most significant student Matsumura Sōkon (1809 – 1899) taught a synthesis of te (Shuri-te and Tomari-te) and Shaolin (Chinese) styles.Matsumura’s style would later become the Shorin – ryu style.

                 

          Anko Itosu , Grandfather of karate.

• Matsumura taught his art to Itosu Anko (1831 – 1878) among others. Itosu adapted two forms he had learned from Matsumura. These are kusankuand chiang nan. He created the ping’an forms (“heian” or “pinan” in Japanese) which are simplified kata for beginning students. In 1901 Itosu helped to get karate introduced into Okinawa’s public schools. These forms were taught to children at the elementary school level. Itosu’s influence in karate is broad. The forms he created are common across nearly all styles of karate. His students became some of the most well-known karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Motobu Chōki. Itosu is sometimes referred to as “the Grandfather of Modern Karate.”

• In 1881 Higaonna Kanryō returned from China after years of instruction with Ryu Ryu Ko and founded what would become Naha-te. One of his students was the founder of Goju – ryu Chōjun Miyagi. Chōjun Miyagi taught such well-known karateka as Seko Higa (who also trained with Higaonna), Meitoku Yagi, Miyazato Ei’ichi, and Seikichi Toguchi, and for a very brief time near the end of his life, An’ichi Miyagi (a teacher claimed by Morio Higaonna).

• In addition to the three early te styles of karate a fourth Okinawan influence is that of Kanbun Uechi (1877- 1938). At the age of 20 he went to Fuzhouin Fujian Province, China, to escape Japanese military conscription. While there he studied under Shushiwa. He was a leading figure of Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken style at that time. He later developed his own style of Uechi-ryu karate based on the Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu kata that he had studied in China.

• Japan

   See also: Japanese martial arts

               
• Masters of karate in Tokyo (c. 1930s), from left to right, Kanken Toyama, Hironori Otsuka, Takeshi Shimoda, Gichin Funakoshi, Motobu Chōki, Kenwa Mabuni, Genwa Nakasone, and Shinken Taira

• Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate, is generally credited with having introduced and popularized karate on the main islands of Japan. In addition many Okinawans were actively teaching, and are thus also responsible for the development of karate on the main islands. Funakoshi was a student of both Asato Ankō and Itosu Ankō (who had worked to introduce karate to the Okinawa Prefectural School System in 1902). During this time period, prominent teachers who also influenced the spread of karate in Japan included Kenwa Mabuni, Chōjun Miyagi, Motobu Chōki, Kanken Tōyama, and Kanbun Uechi. This was a turbulent period in the history of the region. It includes Japan’s annexation of the Okinawan island group in 1872, the First Sino-Japanese War(1894 – 1895), the Russo-Japanese War (1904 1905), the annexation of Korea, and the rise of Japanese militarism (1905 – 1945).

• Japan was invading China at the time, and Funakoshi knew that the art of Tang/China hand would not be accepted; thus the change of the art’s name to “way of the empty hand.” The dosuffix implies that karatedo is a path to self-knowledge, not just a study of the technical aspects of fighting. Like most martial arts practiced in Japan, karate made its transition from -jutsu to -do around the beginning of the 20th century. The “do” in “karate-do” sets it apart from karate-jutsu, as aikido is distinguished from aikijutsu, judo from jujutsu, kendo from kenjutsuand iaido from iaijutsu.

               

Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate.

• Funakoshi changed the names of many kata and the name of the art itself (at least on mainland Japan), doing so to get karate accepted by the Japanese budō organization Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. Funakoshi also gave Japanese names to many of the kata. The five pinan forms became known as heian, the three naihanchi forms became known as tekki, seisan as hangetsu, Chinto as gankaku, wanshu as enpi, and so on. These were mostly political changes, rather than changes to the content of the forms, although Funakoshi did introduce some such changes. Funakoshi had trained in two of the popular branches of Okinawan karate of the time, Shorin-ryū and Shorei-ryu. In Japan he was influenced by kendo, incorporating some ideas about distancing and timing into his style. He always referred to what he taught as simply karate, but in 1936 he built a dojo in Tokyo and the style he left behind is usually called Shotokan after this dojo. Shoto, meaning “pine wave”, was Funakoshi’s pen name and kanmeaning “hall”.

• The modernization and systemization of karate in Japan also included the adoption of the white uniform that consisted of the kimono and the dogior keikogi—mostly called just karategi—and colored belt ranks. Both of these innovations were originated and popularized by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo and one of the men Funakoshi consulted in his efforts to modernize karate.

• A new form of karate called Kyokushin was formally founded in 1957 by Masutatsu Oyama(who was born a Korean, Choi Yeong-Eui ). Kyokushin is largely a synthesis of Shotokan and Goju-ryu. It teaches a curriculum that emphasizes aliveness, physical toughness, and full contactsparring. Because of its emphasis on physical, full-force sparring, Kyokushin is now often called “full contact karate”, or “Knockdown karate” (after the name for its competition rules). Many other karate organizations and styles are descended from the Kyokushin curriculum.

• Belts in karate

• Originally, the white belt wassimply dyed to a new color. This repeated dying process dictated the type of belt color and the order of the colors. The standard belt colour system is white, yellow, gold, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red and black.