The History of Shotokan Karate

The start.

Everything has a beginning.

And the art Shotokan Karate-do is no exception.

While it may have been conceived on the island of Okinawa, it was in Japan that Shotokan Karate-do was truly born.

It is not my intention here to go into the history of either Shotokan, or the life of Gichin Funakoshi. There are simply far to many books, and web sites available where you can learn more on those two subjects. This is simply a brief introduction.

The year was 1868, near the end of the Meiji period. It was into this world that the Founder of Shotokan Karate was born into a minor samurai family, the only son of a government official. Due to a premature birth he was a frail young child, and so his family did not believe that he would live a very long life.

It was becasue of his poor health that his family decided that he should begin to study karate. Little did they know that their decision to send their son down the karate road would one day led to the creation the most widely practiced style of karate in the world.

While in the beginning karate held little interest for him, he soon found that the training had a profound effect on his heath, and his wellbeing. This led him to finally take a much greater interest in his training. By the time he was an adult no trace of that frail child remained.

Gichin Funakoshi had two primary karate teachers. His first teacher was Yasutsune Azato, a member of the Okinawan upper class, and a well know expert, not only in karate, but also in several other martial arts. His second teacher was Yasutsune Itosu, who is credited with the creation of the Pinan katas, which are called the Heian katas in Shotokan. Both of these masters are said to have studied under Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura, himself a student of the legendary master, Tode Sakugawa. 

The following books may interest you, they are in no particular order.

Karate-Do Kyohan - The Master Text

The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate

The Essence of Karate

Karate-Do Nyumon

Remember: "Above all else, seek perfection of character".