Karate

It is said that the traditional Okinawan martial arts called Te and Chinese Kenpo were blended together and developed into karate. Karate later underwent significant developments in Okinawa based on several factors, including the policy of banning weapons following the political centralization of King Shoshin (1477-1526) and the Satsuma Clan’s invasion of Ryukyu (1609).

It later developed further through a process of systematization into ‘Modern Karate’, which actually had a lot to do with the efforts of the men known as the Chuko no so (The Revivers), including Sokon Matsumura (1828-1898) of the Shuri-te style, Kosaku Matsumora (1829-1898) of the Tomari-te style and Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915) of the Naha-te style.

In 1908, ‘The 10 Articles of Karate’ prepared by Anko Itosu were submitted to the Educational Affairs Section of Okinawa Prefecture. After that, karate started being introduced into the school gymnastics curriculum, thus acquiring broad accessibility, in contrast to the previously secret principles of Isshi-soden (the complete transmission of a ryu’s techniques only to your heir).

BackIn the early 20th century, karate began to be introduced throughout Japan by several master, including Gichin Funakoshi (1871-1954, Founder of Shotokan-ryu), Kenwa Mabuni (1891-1952, Founder of Shito-ryu;), Kanbun Uechi (1877-1948, Founder of Uechi-ryu;) and Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953, Founder of Goju-ryu). Also throughout Okinawa, karate was taught by masters such as Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945), Choki Motobu (1870-1941) and Choshin Chibana (1885-1969, Founder of Shorin-ryu).

It has been said that the original name of Todi was changed to the name ‘karate’ (empty hand) around this time.

Karate began spreading around the world after the war. The biggest contributors were the many emigrants who went to live abroad full of ambition, and the U.S. military personnel occupying Japan at the time.

In 1969, karate-ka were invited from Okinawa to give a demonstration at the 1st All Japan Karate Championship Tournament held at the Nihon Budokan in Tokyo. Then in 1984, Tsuguo Sakumoto (Ryuei-ryu) won the Men’s Division of the 7th World Karate-do Championship, held in the Netherlands. In 1987, Okinawa achieved both Men’s & Women’s overall victories in the Karate-do Division of the 42nd National Sports Festival (the Autumn Session, known as Kaiho-Kokutai).

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