Karate is commonly thought to be a Japanese art form.
Yet, there is indeed a Japanese branch of Karate that has descended from Okinawan Karate, the original form of martial arts.
The duration of stances distinguishes Japanese Karate, but competitive Karate has evolved into more complex movements and is frequently more about entertainment than usefulness.
Unlike many other martial arts systems, Okinawan Karate has evolved over centuries and is not the product of a single founder.
Many experts contributed to the development of the discipline, which is why it is a hybrid of Chinese martial arts.
Keep reading to learn more about the history and popularity of karate as a distinctive martial art form.
The Beginnings Of Karate
Karate is more than thousand years old, with styles flourishing throughout far east Asia.
Sometime throughout the 5th Century AD, a travelling monk named Bodhidarma arrived in China via India alongside his own brand of spiritual instruction and self-defense.
Bodhidarma’s Zen Buddhist teachings led him to assume that his supporters were weak and unsound of mind.
As a result, he devised and promoted a systemized set of exercises and physical procedures known as Yoga, which included stretching postures and deep breathing.
This structure was created to improve the mind and body, and the workouts eventually led to the birth of the Shaolin monastery Kung fu style.
Teachers developed almost superhuman abilities to protect themselves against aggressive robbers through breathing and meditation, and thus the Shaolin monks’ legends began.
Martial arts emerged from these concepts of Bodhidharma’s teachings, and a majority of Chinese martial arts are based on them.
An ideology that eventually made its way to the Japanese across Asia.
Hundreds of years later, we arrive in Okinawa, a little island inside the Ryu Kyu chain that stretches from Japan’s southernmost tip to mainland China.
The Shimazu clan, a native daimyo, conquered Okinawa in 1609.
Because it was at the intersection of a vital trade route, its influence inside the Empire was enormous.
The Japanese conquerors banned all weapons for the first time after a mutiny to overturn samurai control in Okinawa.
Local resistance fighters were forced to seek out rudimentary empty-hand methods as a result of this.
The second insurrection on the island, which resulted in the outlawing of weapons, was the inspiration for the art style we now know as “karate,” which is based on an indigenous type of close fist fighting known as Okinawan Te, or “hand.”
The Okinawans were subjected to weapons bans at various times throughout their history, which aided in the perfection of the empty-hand technique.
Other martial arts styles brought to the island by nobility and trade merchants made their way into the Okinawan system as well.
Karate and its evolution took a more covert path as time went on, and it remained hidden until contemporary times and the outbreak of the Second World War.
Te grew in popularity over time, primarily in the Okinawan cities of Shuri, Naha, and Tomari.
Each of these towns served as a focal point for a distinct social group: monarchs and aristocrats, merchants and businesspeople, farmers and fisherman, and so on.
There was, without a doubt, a process in place.
However, it wasn’t until Sokon Matsumura drew together a set of prescribed moves that Karate began to resemble the martial art that we know today. “Kata” was the name of the maneuvers.
As a result, separate kinds of self-defense arose in each city, and they became recognized as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, respectively.
They were collectively known as Okinawa-Te or Tode, which means ‘Chinese hand.’
Shorin-ryu, which formed around Shuri and Tomari, and Shorei-ryu, which originated in the Naha area, gradually split karate into two main factions.
However, it’s worth noting that the communities of Shuri, Tomari, and Naha were just a few miles away, and that the distinctions among their arts were primarily ones of emphasis rather than sort.
Underneath these superficial distinctions, all Okinawan karate has the same methods and goals.
Gichin Funakoshi even goes so far as to say that these two styles evolved in response to distinct physical requirements.
Gichin Funakoshi gave the first public presentation of martial arts in Japan in 1917 at the Butoku-den of Kyoto.
Many Japanese were fascinated by this and future demonstrations, including Heir To the throne Hirohito, who was a big fan of Okinawan art.
Dr. Jano Kano, the inventor of the Japanese art form called Judo, asked Funakoshi to demonstrate and teach karate at the renowned Kodokan Dojo in 1922.
This support was crucial in developing a karate foundation in Japan.
The great Mas Oyama was one of Funakoshi’s students. Oyama spent a year in the United States in 1952, displaying his karate live on national television.
Throughout the years that followed, he took on every challenge, resulting in 270 separate fights.
The great majority of them were knocked out in a single punch! A fight was not more than two minutes long, and most of the time it was only a few seconds long.
The start of Kyokushin as well as the world’s current Headquarters were officially launched in June 1964, under the leadership of Mas Oyama, and the name Kyokushin, which means “ultimate truth,” was adopted.
Mas Oyama established his first “Dojo” in Mejiro, Tokyo, in 1953.
The first true Dojo debuted in 1956, 500 meters from the present Japanese honbu dojo, in a disused dance studio near Rikkyo University (headquarters).
Despite significant drop-outs due to the rigor of training, there had been 700 members by 1957.
The IKO (International Karate Organization) was established the same year.
Kyokushin has since expanded to over 120 countries, with over 10 million registered members, making it one of the world’s largest martial arts organisations.
Karate has a long and mysterious history, however it remains one of the most prominent martial arts to this day.
Integrity, respect, civility, humility, loyalty, and compassion are among the virtues promoted by karate.
Karate also teaches self-control, goal-setting, and leadership skills.
Due to the obvious skills and habits that karate students develop, they can achieve a high degree of dedication and passion to any effort.