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Shotokan History

In the year 525 AD, during the six dynasties of China (AD 220-AD 581), Bodiharma (Daruma in Japanese) a monk from India, wandered into China for the purpose of spreading Buddhism, ended up at the Shaolin Monastery in Henan province. The Shaolin monks were trained to stay seated for long periods of time practicing meditation. Because of a lack of physical exercise, Daruma introduced organized calisthenics and Yoga into their daily training. This help developed blood flow and stamina needed for hard core meditation. This later develops into Zen Buddhism and Shaolin Gung fu. Mixing his teachings with the indigenous martial arts, the Shaolin monks were inspired to examine the combative movements of birds and beasts over the centuries combine it into a systemize form of self-defense called “Shorin-ji Kempo”. The monks of the Shaolin Monastery became very famous in both mental and physical strengths and their art spread and expanded into many areas of Asia, including Okinawa (The Ryukyu Islands) and the art was called To-di (Chinese hand).

Shotokan History

Modern Shotokan Karate-do

There was a long history of cultural exchange between China and the Ryukyu Islands dating back to the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-AD 1644). Ti (Hands) was brought over from Ming China. To-di (Chinese hand) was mostly developed and brought over during the Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1912). Karate “Okinawan Gung fu” spread and developed around the three villages of Shuri, Naha and Tomari, where Chinese influence is greatest. These arts became known as Shuri-te, Naha-te and Tomari-te for the area in which it was practices. The arts from Shuri and Tomari became known as Shorin ryu “Shaolin temple style” and the arts from Naha became known as Shorei ryu “Enlighten Spirit style”. Master Gichin Funakoshi brought Shorin ryu to main land Japan and it developed into Modern Shotokan Karate-do. Shorei ryu develop on Okinawa and became the styles of Kojo ryu, Goju ryu and Uechi ryu.

The Development of Shotokan

1868, Master Gichin Funakoshi “Shoto” as he was known, was born in Naha Okinawa and as a young child began learning To-di from Master Anko Azato of Naha and Master Anko Itosu of Shuri. Masters Asato and Itosu were disciples of the great Okinawan Martial Artist, Sokon Matsumura who was himself a disciple of Kanga Sakugawa and three Chinese Military attaches, Wai shin Zan, Ason and Iwah.

1917, Master Funakoshi performed the first public demonstration of Karate outside of Okinawa at the Butokuden “Martial art center” in Kyoto Japan.

1921, Master Funakoshi demonstrated Karate at Okinawa’s Shuri castle for Hirohito the Crown Prince of Japan. The Prince ( Future Emperor of Japan) was so impressed that he wanted the art to be introduced to Mainland Japan.

1922, The Master moved to Japan and permanently settle down in Koishikawa Tokyo and started teaching at the Meisei juku (dormitory for Okinawan Students).

1922, Master Funakoshi performed public Karate demonstrations in Tokyo and introduced the Okinawan art to the general public.

1922, Master Tomosaburo Okano was born in Hachioji-shi Tokyo Japan. Later Master Okano was designated a living national treasure for karate by the Japanese government.

The Development of Shotokan Continued

1922, Master Funakoshi wrote the first textbook on Karate called Ryukyu kempo To-di (meaning, Okinawan fist method China hand).

1924, Master Funakoshi started to teach at Keio University karate club and later many other University karate clubs were formed.

1925, Master Funakoshi wrote Rentan Goshin To-di jitsu (meaning, physical fitness self-defense China hand art).

1929, Master Funakoshi change the name of his martial art to Karate-do (way of the Empty hand).

1935, Master Funakoshi wrote karate-do Kyohan, using the new term for karate (meaning, way of the empty hand, master text).

1936, Master Gichin Funakoshi with the help of his students formed the Dai Nihon Karate-do Shotokai “meaning Great Japan empty hand way pine wave association”. Master Funakoshi became the founding Kaicho “president” and Shihan “Master Instructor” of the association and Gigo Funakoshi also known as “Yoshitaka Funakoshi” became the Shihan-dai “assistant to the Master”.

1939, With the help of the Dai Nihon Karate-do Shotokai members, funds was raise to built the karate dojo of Master Funakoshi. The dojo was call the Shotokan (meaning pine wave building), The dojo was built next to his home in Mejiro Tokyo, (formally inaugurated on January 29, 1939). The style of karate became known as Shotokan ryu.

The Development of Shotokan Continued

1941, Master Tomosaburo Okano started karate At 19 years old with Mister Toshio Igarashi, a member of the “Pine Wave school”.

1942, Mister Igarashi brought and introduced Master Okano to the Shotokan dojo and became a direct student of Master Gichin Funakoshi and his third son, Master Gigo Funakoshi.

1942, On October 10th, Master Okano with the help of Misters Suzuki Shinjo, Kaneko Isamu and Takagi Yoshitomo, established the “KenkoKai Karate-Bu” a karate research club in Hachioji-shi Tokyo

1943, Master Funakoshi wrote Karate-do Nyumon (meaning, enter the door to way of the empty hand).

1944, On September 25th, Master Toyotaro Miyazaki was born in Hachioji-shi, Tokyo Japan.


The Development of Shotokan Continued

1945, On April 29th the Shotokan Dojo was destroyed during the air raid over Toyko.

1945, On November 24th, Master Gigo Funakoshi died of a long illness. He was 39 years old.

1945, Master Okano returned from the air force and revived the KenkoKai Karate-Bu after the war.

1948, The kenkokai Karate-bu change it’s name to the Kenkojuku Dojo. The Kenkojuku Budokan was established at the present location in Minamimachi Hachioji-shi.

1949, On May 27th, students headed by Master Masatoshi Nakayama formed the Japan Karate Association (JKA), naming Master Funakoshi as the Technical adviser.

1955, On November 30th, Master Funakoshi and his first and second sons visited the Kenkojuku Dojo for a special ceremony.

1957, Master Gichin Funakoshi passed away on April 26th at the age of 88.

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