There are many reported “contributors” to modern day Karate.  Libraries, books, videos, and the Internet have a wealth of information
available.  I am sharing the contributors that I feel had the greatest influence on modern day Karate.  

Karate means "Empty Hand."  Do means "The Way."  Therefore, when you combine Karate-Do together, you get "The Way of the Empty
Hand."  The origin of Karate may not be as clear as we would like it to be; however, most martial arts authorities tend to agree that
India is the country where Karate's roots began.  I will begin, however, with a lesser known introduction to a Chinese Dr. named "Hua
T'o," who some believe was the first to begin developing the fundamentals of Karate-Do.   

Around 200 A.D. a Doctor named "Hua T’o" is thought to have developed the first formalized version of self-defense.  He developed it
by watching the movements and the “fight or flight” techniques of animals.  By watching and observing the movements and natural
instincts of certain animals, he began to piece together a weaponless self-defense system by applying these natural techniques
to the human body.  He discovered that practicing these movements led to improved health and a greater means of self-protection.  

Around the same time period, there was reportedly a prince from India who is known for developing one of the earlier versions of self-
defense and for discovering pressure points in the body.  The prince also watched the movements of animals, noting many of the animal’s
strengths and how those strengths were used during an attack.  The prince then experimented on captive slaves to discover the weak
areas of the human anatomy .  He did this by jabbing needles into a slave’s body until a puncture site resulted in death.  Although totally
inhumane and cruel in his approach, the experiment helped the prince locate the weak points or "pressure points" of the body.  He used
the knowledge he obtained through his experiment(s) and through his observations of animals to form a weaponless self-defense fighting
system that is still influenced by pressure point striking today.


By far, the most widely accepted individual credited with the creation or birth of empty hand self-defense is Bodhidharma.  In the 6th
Century, a Buddhist priest (in Chinese called "Daruma" or better known in the martial arts world as "Bodhidharma") ordered his sect to
propagate "Zen Buddhism" to the Chinese people.  Bodhidharma was originally from India and was the 28th Indian Patriarch and a direct
descendant of Buddha.  Bodhidharma lived approximately 1,000 years after Buddha died in 483 B.C.  Daruma traveled with his sect to
China around 529 A.D. to establish a Buddhist Monastery.  He found the Chinese monks unable to handle the exhausting mental exercises
of the Indian style of Zen Buddhism, so Daruma instituted a system of mental and physical self-defense exercises – based again on the
movements of animals – to condition the monk’s bodies and minds called I-Chin Sutra.  Later Master Daruma built his own monastery,
called Shaolin-Szu, and the monks became known as the most formidable of fighters.  During that time, there were many thieves that
would rob and kill travelers for money.  Since monks were not allowed to carry weapons, Bodhidharma’s techniques were instrumental in
helping monks defend themselves during their travels.  The monk's art form became known as Kempo, which we still refer to as the “Fist


The introduction of Zen Buddhism spread slowly but steadily throughout China, across the East China Sea and toward the Ryukyu
Islands of Okinawa.  Okinawans – who were constantly being threatened by pirates and warlords like the Japanese Samurai – adopted
the flowing arts of Shorinji (meaning Shaolin) and developed a new fighting art, Okinawa-Te.  Okinawa-Te was comprised of three art
forms, Shuri-Te, Naha-Te, and Tomari-Te; all of which are named after the three largest villages in Okinawa where those respective
arts were birthed and practiced daily.  By combining Chinese Kempo and Okinawa-Te, a truly formidable art form was born.  Implementing
the use of the feet, hands, elbows, knees, and head as weapons, the 16th Century Okinawans were able to strike back and overthrow
Japanese occupational forces.

The next largest contributor to the development and advancement of modern day Karate was an Okinawan school teacher named Gichin
Funakoshi (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE 20 PRECEPTS).  In 1922, Japan’s Ministry of Education sponsored a martial arts exhibition and
invited Okinawa’s grand master – Sensei Chokun Mobutu – to attend.  However, Master Mobutu was so anti-Japanese that the  
Okinawans feared sending him to the exhibition.  Instead, they sent one of his students, a polished school teacher named Gichin
Funakoshi to represent their small country.  Gichin so impressed the Japanese with his martial arts' skills and technique that they
persuaded him to stay and teach his art form in Japan.  In 1936 Gichin Funakoshi opened his first school dedicated to teaching Shotokan
Karate (school patch shown below).   Gichin Funakoshi passed away on April 26, 1957 at the age of 88.  Aside from creating Shotokan
Karate and introducing his art form to the rest of the world, Funakoshi also wrote the following books:

1.  Ryukyu Kempo: Karate-Do
2.  Karate-Do Kyohan: The Master Text
3.  Karate-Do: My Way of Life
Gichin Funakoshi
Gichin Funakoshi Sparring
One Of His Students
Gichin Funakoshi Later
In Life
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