Originally named Te meaning Hand, the martial art developed in Okinawa as a system of self-defense. Due to Okinawa’s frequent contact with China, it is certain that the karate was influenced by Chinese kempo during its development. However, with only oral tradition and very little written records, it is not certain exactly when the art called Kara-Te first emerged.

…they were so impressed, Funakoshi was inundated with requests to teach Shotokan.

It is thought that it developed roughly 500 years ago, when the dynastic ruler King Shoha unified okinawa after decades of warfare and banned the possession of weapons on the island. A similar law forbid the possession and use of weapons was re-issued by the Satsuma clan, who invaded Okinawa in the early 1600’s and brought it under the rule of Japan. It is believed that in this environment karate developed as a form of unarmed combat for protecting oneself and one’s country, and it was taught and practiced in secret.

Around 1900 Karate began to be more openly taught . In 1902 Karate was introduced to the Okinawan school system. As Karate began to be more openly practiced public demonstrations were given, One such demonstration to the Japanese Crown Prince. He was so impressed by the demonstration that he invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo give a demonstration and so in 1922 Funakoshi acompanied by several assistants gave one of the first demonstrations of Karate outside Okinawa.

…he became known as the father of modern karate.

The Japanese were so impressed that Funakoshi was inundated with requests to teach Karate and so he decided to remain in Tokyo to teach until death in 1957.

The style of Karate taught by Funakoshi later became known as Shotokan. which was derived from two words, Shoto, which was Gichin Funakoshi’s signature, and Kan meaning house or practice hall. Therefore, Shotokan means Shoto’s House. In 1949 Funakoshi along with his senior students formed the Japan Karate Association. Therefor he was the very first Chief Instructor of JKA and so became known as the father of modern karate.