Japanese Art of Karate
Karate is a martial art originating in the Japanese
territory known as the Ryukyu Islands. It includes a variety of techniques
including punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes and open-handed
techniques such as knife-hands and ridge-hands. Grappling, locks, throws,
and point strikes are also taught in some styles and in some schools. Karate
students are sometimes referred to as a karateka.
Karate began as a fighting system referred to as "ti." After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China by King Satto of Chkzan in late 14th century, various forms of Chinese martial arts were slowly introduced to the Ryukyu Islands by the visitors from China.
A group of Chinese families moved to Okinawa near the end of the 14th century where they established the Kumemura community and shared their knowledge of a wide variety of Chinese arts and sciences, including the Chinese martial arts.
The centralization of governance and authority in Okinawa by King Shō Hashi in the first half of the 15th century and the policy of banning of weapons which was enforced in Okinawa after the invasion of the Shimazu clan, were also contributing factors that furthered the development of unarmed combat systems in Okinawa.
Each teachers taught a particular kata as well as differing techniques and principles that distinguished their local version from that of others.
The adoption of empty-handed Chinese Wu Shu into Okinawan fighting arts most likely transpired because of cultural and political interchanges. Further influence came from Southeast Asia from the regions of Sumatra, Java, and Melaka. Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku likely originated in and around Southeast Asia.
Sakukawa Kanga had studied bo staff fighting in China. In 1806 he started teaching a fighting art in Shuri that he called "Tudi Sakukawa." This was the first known written reference to the art of "Tudi." Around the 1820s Sakukawa's most significant student Matsumura SMkon who lived till the end of the 19th century taught a synthesis of te and Shaolin styles. Matsumura's style and techniques would eventually develop into the Shōrin-ryk karate style.
The founder of Shotokan karate,Gichin Funakoshi, is typically credited with having extended the reach and popularity of karate on the Japanese home islands though the spread is more likely through many Okinawans who were actively teaching, and are thus equally responsible for the popularization of karate.
Funakoshi was a disciple of both Asato Ankō and Itosu AnkM who had worked to introduce karate to the Okinawa Prefectural School System. During this time period, prominent teachers who also influenced the spread of karate in Japan included Kenwa Mabuni, ChMjun Miyagi, Motobu ChMki, Kanken TMyama, and Kanbun Uechi
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