According to ancient Okinawan legend, Karate had its beginnings in India with a Buddhist monk named Daruma. Tradition says that Daruma traveled across the Himalayan Mountains from India to the Shaolin Temple in Honan Province of China. There he began teaching the other monks his philosophies of physical and mental conditioning. Legend has it that his teachings included exercises for maintaining physical strength and self defense.This same monk known as Bodhidharma in India and as Ta Mo in China, is credited with founding the school of Buddhist philosophy known as “Ch´an” in China and as “Zen” in Japan.The Okinawans believe that the art known as Karate today came from those original teachings of Daruma through an Okinawan who visited or lived for some time in China at the Shaolin Temple. Whether or not this is true, it is obvious that there are similarities in the Okinawan art of Karate and the language and martial arts of China.Further, we must assume that the Karate of Okinawa developed from trial and error of fighting experiences into a different and unique martial art.

Karate (空手)is a martial art developed in the in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (手, literally “hand”; Tii in Okinawan) and Chinese kenpō.Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught in some styles.A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家).

Karate was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to its 19th-century annexation by Japan. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans. 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 Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs.In this era of escalating Japanese militarism,the name was changed from 唐手 (“Chinese hand”) to 空手 (“empty hand”) – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style.After the Second World War, 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 its popularity and 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.” Shoshin 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.”

For many practitioners, karate is a deeply philosophical practice. Karate-do teaches ethical principles and can have spiritual significance to its adherents. Gichin Funakoshi (“Father of Modern Karate”) titled his autobiography Karate-Do: My Way of Life in recognition of the transforming nature of karate study. Today karate is practiced for self-perfection, for cultural reasons, for self-defense and as a sport. In 2005, in the 117th IOC (International Olympic Committee) voting, karate did not receive the necessary two thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport.Web Japan (sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) claims there are 50 million karate practitioners worldwide.

Karate began as a common fighting system known as te (Okinawan: ti) among the Pechin class of the Ryukyuans. After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan in 1372, 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,’ enforced in Okinawa after the invasion of 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, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced “Gōjūken” in Japanese).Further influence came from Southeast Asia—particularly Sumatra, Java, and Melaka.Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have originated in and around Southeast Asia.


 Dojo Kun and Training Principles:

1)  一、空手は礼に初まり礼に終ることを忘るな。

Karate-do wa rei ni hajimari rei ni owaru koto a wasaru na .

Karate-do begins with a bow and finishes with a bow

2) 二、空手に先手なし。

Karate ni sente nashi .

There is no first strike in karate

3) 三、空手は義の補け。

Karate wa, gi no taske .

One who practices karate must follow the way of justice


Mazu onore o shire, shikashite ta o shire .

First know yourself , then you can know others.


Gijitsu yori shinjitsu .

Spirit and mind is more important than technique


Kokoro wa hanatan koto o yosu .

Be ready to release your mind


Waza wai wa ketai ni seizu .

Misfortune comes out of idleness


Dojo nomino karate to omou na .

Don’t think that what you learn from karate can’t be used outside the dojo


Karate-do no shugyo wa isssho de aru .

It will take you entire life to learn karate


Ara yuru mono o karateka seyo; sokoni myomi ari .

Put karate into your everyday living; that is how you will see its true beauty

11) 十一、空手は湯の如く絶えず熱を与えざれば元の水に返る。

Karate Wa Yu No Gotoku Taezu Netsu O Atae Zareba Motono Mizuni Kaeru .

Karate is just like hot water; if you do not give it continuous heat, it will become cold

12) 十二、勝つ考えは持つな、負けぬ考えは必要。

Katsu kangae wa motsuna; makenu kangae wa hitsuyo .

Do not think that you have to win; think, rather, that you do not have to lose


Tekki ni yotte tenka seyo .

Make adjustments according to your opponent

14) 十四、戦は虚実の操縦如何にあり。

Tattakai wa kyo-jitsu no soju ikan ni ari .

In conflict you must discern the vulnerable from invulnerable points

15) 十五、人の手足を劔と思え。

Hi to no te-ashi wa ken to omoe .

Consider you opponent’s legs and arms as you would lethal swords.

16) 十六、男子門を出づれば百万の敵あり。

Danshi mon o izureba hyakuman no teki ari .

When you step beyond your own gate, you face a million enemies.

17) 十七、構えは初心者に、あとは自然体。

Kamae wa shoshinsha ni atowa shizentai .

Formal stances, are for beginners, later, one stands naturally.

18) 十八、型は正しく、実戦は別もの。

Kata wa tadashiku, jisen wa betsumono .

Perform presented sets of techniques exactly,  actual combat is another matter.

19) 十九、力の強弱、体の伸縮、技の緩急を忘るな。

Chikara no kyojaku tai no shinshuku waza no kankyu wo wasaru na .

Do not forget: the employment of power, the extension or contraction of the body, the swift

or leisurely application of technique.

20) 二十、常に思念工夫せよ。

Tsune ni shinen ku fu seyo .

Be constantly mindful, diligent, and resourceful, in your pursuit of the Way.