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The story of the origins of karate is intertwined with numerous legends. It takes us to the distant past. The key place for the emergence of this skill is the Riu Kiu archipelago located southwest of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. The geographical position of these islands made them susceptible to various cultural influences. From India and China to Korea and Japan. The location of the island made them interesting to everyone who wanted to dominate that part of the world. The inhabitants of these islands have thus been exposed to constant attacks by invaders throughout history. All these elements influenced the development of a special mentality and way of thinking of the inhabitants of these islands.
Early stage of karate development
The formation of the Riu Kiu kingdom began during the 14th century. Despite its insignificant size, the newly formed kingdom would play a major role in the maritime trade of that part of the world until the end of the 19th century. The development of trade was accompanied by economic prosperity. This results in settling people who are looking for a better life. At that time, numerous inhabitants of China immigrated to these islands. The locals accept some of the customs and skills arrived from the mainland. Among these skills was kung fu (a martial art developed since the 6th century in the Chinese monastery of Shaolin). Shaolin monks are believed to have developed their martial arts system in part under the influence of Indian Buddhist monks. The largest island of the archipelago is Okinawa. During the 15th century, local martial arts developed under the influence of Chinese skills developed in Okinawa. The ban on carrying weapons contributed to the development of karate. The ban was introduced by King Sho Shin in 1477 in an attempt to maintain his rule. This resulted in the withdrawal of karate into almost illegal streams. Knowledge was transmitted within the family. Strict care was taken of who was allowed to be a candidate for learning. The ban has contributed to the development of specific types of weapons. These weapons are now part of the arsenal of Eastern martial arts.
Due to the need for more efficient defense, people began to use everyday agricultural tools instead of weapons. The famous nunchakes from martial arts films were originally intended to separate the grains of cereals from the ears. Tonfa is a stick with a side handle. Today, “tonfa” is in regular use by many police forces around the world. Once upon a time, tonfa was originally a handle for turning a stone that was grinding grain. The skill of fighting with a stick or a long stick was developed.
The greatest attention is paid to the development of skills with bare hands. The name karate means “empty hand”. This interpretation was accepted only in the 20th century because the signs with which this word is written can be interpreted as “Chinese hand”. For many years this indicated the origin of the skill. However, the political atmosphere in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century was such that the mention of China should have been avoided.
The ancient skill comes out of anonymity
Masters from Okinawa during the 19th century practiced several different styles of exercise with clearly defined movements and techniques. The style shaped by master Mazumura Sokon is known today as “Shorin-riu”. His student Anko Itosu, who is considered the founder of modern karate, helped introduce karate to regular school classes on the island of Okinawa in 1901. At that time, the Riu-Kiu archipelago already belonged to Japan (after the annexation in 1879). Many Okinawans move further north with the knowledge of karate. Itusou’s student Gichin Funakoshi is the founder of the “Shoto-kan” style. He contributed to the formation of the basis of today’s modern sport. There are many other famous masters of this sport (Kenva Mabuni, Motoku Chokoa, Choium Miyagi, and others). The changes that Japan went through (after opening to the rest of the world) paved the way for the popularization of this skill. In 1922, the Japanese Minister of Education called Gishin Funakochi to Tokyo to hold a demonstration of the skill. Karate clubs soon began to be established at Japanese universities. The skill quickly gained numerous admirers. In accordance with the situation at the time, Funakochi redefined the names “Kata” and technique. He adapted them to the Japanese language to avoid difficulties due to the Chinese origin of the skill. Karate gained planetary popularity as a Japanese skill. There are 4 styles with the most supporters (Shoto-kan, Shoto-riu, Godyu-riu and Vado-riu). There are many other styles that preserve the tradition of their founders. In the late 1960s, Master Masutazu Oyama developed his “Kiokushikai” style known as full-contact.
The skill is gaining worldwide popularity
In the sixties of the last century, films whose heroes defeat rivals using martial arts gained planetary popularity. This contributed to the spread of the skill that came to the United States and Europe a decade earlier. After World War II, Okinawa became a significant American naval base. American soldiers begin to learn the skill from local masters. They pass this knowledge on to their students upon their return home. The masters of this skill thought that there was no place for competition in it. New times bring the formation of competitive alliances and the need to introduce rules. Karate took on the characteristics of a modern sport with clearly defined rules. There are still people who accept karate exclusively as a system of exercises according to personal psycho-physical development. Such an understanding of karate is recognized only by competition with oneself, because the individual is the biggest obstacle on the way to perfection. When we overcome our own weaknesses, it means that we have reached a higher level of skill. This understanding is close to the original understanding of the skill. Today, however, the modern competitive approach is more widespread. In fights, full contact and half-contact are allowed depending on the competition system. Catches and throws are eliminated from the list of allowed techniques. Competitions also take place in the discipline of performing “kata”. “Kate” is a traditional form for practicing a range of techniques. It is most often described as a fight with an imaginary opponent.
From the world of acting and music, many celebrities love this skill. Elvis Presley was thrilled with the skill training he practiced regularly. Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery also love this skill. Jean Claude Van Dam originally practiced karate before beginning his film career. After that, he cursed other counting skills.
Most styles have adopted a trainer ranking system that Gishin Funakochi has taken from the judo tradition. Student degrees are marked as “Kiu”. They range from the lowest tenth to the first kiu. Master’s degrees are marked as “day”. The highest rank is the tenth “day”. Student degrees are marked with different color belts depending on the style of exercise. The usual wearing of a black belt is for a master’s degree.
Karate Camp (school) in Okinawa (Japan) http://www.ageshiojapan.com
japan Karate association http://www.jka.or.jp