Karate – A history of the “Empty Hand” Style

Karate – A history of the “Empty Hand” Style

Modern day Karate stems from Okinawa, the fifth largest island in Japan. For over two-hundred years Karate evolved and flourished but its historic origins stem from an ancient culture from over thousands of years ago. Sensei Gichin Funakoshi is the modern master of the current state of Karate as it lives on in the modern world. The notion of Karate or “Empty Hand” fighting came from the need for self defense as weapons were banned by the samurai rulers in seventeenth century Japan. Sensei Gichin Funakoshi had taken the art of Karate fighting from its Chinese origins and modified it to completely fit the Japanese values and people who at the time hated the notion of anything “Chinese”.

Originally the art of Karate was enshrouded in secrecy but due to the actions of Anko Itosu, he got the permission he needed to bring Karate out in the open. His student Gichin Funakoshi evolved the formulation of Karate and then Gichin’s son Gigo Funakoshi even furthered the transformative evolution of the modernity of Karate as it is today.

Kihon Kata, which is known as Basic Form, is the most basic form of Shotokan Kata and only involves two techniques known as lower block and lunge punch, both were invented by Gichin Funakoshi. His son Gigo Funakoshi further grew the sets of unarmed techniques by including Gohan Kumite, which is predetermined attacks in a set of five techniques.

The historians that trace Karate’s origin point, find it stems from “The Far East to Bodhidharma, the Indian Buddhist monk who travelled to China in around 527 CE.” (The History of Fighting, The History of Okinawan Karate). He created what is known as Kung Fu and from its Chinese origins it spread to Japan and transformed into the modern-day Karate which is what we know today.

Karate has spread across the world and incorporated many different unarmed techniques. It is a major focus of many different fighting styles and many of these styles share similarities. In present day all martial arts stem from one goal, to protect one’s self and to protect who needs protecting. Karate issues in discipline through the act of rigorous training and it enlightens us to the notion of self-preservation. Karate has become the evolutionary style of modernity and martial arts simply through the art of progression. As one would like to grow and progress through Karate, Karate does the same.











Article written and researched by Saul A. Herman

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