karate history


A Critical Look at Chojun Miyagi's Landmark 1936 Lecture on the Origins of Karate

We know that karate was developed in the Ryukyu Islands, an archipelago located southwest of Japan. The largest of the Ryukyu is, of course, Okinawa.

The people of the Ryukyu shared a common ancestry with the people of Japan and spoke a language, called Uchinaguchi, that had a common origin with the language of Japan. This is why many of the words we use in karate are actually Uchinaguchi words. Before 1429, there were three warring factions on Okinawa: Hokuzan (literally, "northern mountain"), Chuzan ("middle mountain") and Nanzan ("southern mountain"). In 1429 Chuzan emerged victorious, and all the Ryukyu Islands became unified under its first king, Sho Hashi.But precisely when on this timeline did karate develop? The origins of the art are obscure — and have been made even more so by the passage of time and the spread of myths and misconceptions. Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate, addressed this subject:"

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Sanchin Training

According to some sources, it is assumed that there are more than 400 different katas in the world today, performed in many diverse styles of martial arts. However, if we are to single out one kata that is special in its form and significance, it would surely be the Sanchin kata.

The Sanchin kata differs from all the rest by its use and representation in various styles of martial arts. For example, the Sanchin kata's use can be found in martial arts such as Karate and Kung Fu, although its influence is seen in other Asian martial arts.

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Karate technique

History has a flow. Some characters are caught in the currents and carried along, while others fall into eddies and are soon forgotten.

Most karateka will recognize names like Funakoshi and Motobu. Far fewer know anything about Yasuhiro Konishi even though he was a pivotal figure in the early development of karate in Japan and its evolution as a budo.

Konishi, who lived from 1893 to 1983, began training in the muso ryu of jujitsu at age 6. Shortly thereafter, he joined the takeuchi ryu, another school of jujitsu. Seven years later, he began training in kendo. He attended Keio University and became the university club's kendo coach.

Konishi was utterly occupied by budo. One of the kendoka attending Keio, a man named Tsuneshige Arakaki, was from Okinawa, and at a party, he demonstrated a karate kata. Konishi was instantly intrigued. He began learning the art from Arakaki. After graduating, Konishi worked for a company for a short time, but in 1923, he opened his own dojo, called the Ryobu-Kan. There, he taught kendo and judo and continued to learn karate.

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Read the conclusion to this fascinating journey of martial arts discovery that led from Okinawa to China and ended up at Nine Lotus Temple and Nine Dragons Temple!

On our research trip to China, we visited the remote Nine Lotus Temple, located in a rugged region of the Putien district. Just getting to the base of the mountain on which the temple sits required an hour-and-a-half bus ride from the nearest town. Then came an arduous climb with an elevation gain of 4,000-plus feet. Along the way, the route was surrounded by steep cliffs and ravines that cascaded thousands of feet down to the lowlands.

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