Journey Of Karate : From Islands Of Japan To Heart Of World


When we see any game , practice it ,we have a curiosity of knowing about its origin and history. We try to gather information how it came to us..? How it evolved…?

Well, there is a journey behind the evolution of every sport. In the same way “Karate”- a sport, a combat technique, an art of self defense has its own history.

About The Game

Karate is a Japanese martial arts technique that needs growth of defensive attack and counter attacking body movements. The sole motive of this game is self – improvement, although this game teaches an individual, techniques of attacking and self defense.

The word “Kara” means Empty and “Te” means Hand. “Karate-do” means defending himself empty handed. A Karate practitioner is called a “Karateka”.

It is the best way of using body to learn self defense. It balances both the body and mind.


History of Karate has many theories but all of them are proofless because whatever you read was written a long time after it happened. But still we have interest in its evolution. How it emerge as a great combat technique…??

Indian Theory

Art Of Kalarippayattu

According to Indian Theory this type of fighting  was originated in India and was taken to Chinese Shaolin Temple by Boddhidharma known as Da Mo in Chinese and Daruma Taishi in Japanese from western source of India (Kerala). At that time Boddidharma was well established in a martial art form named  Kalarippayattu. Boddhidharma started this to make the monks strong to bear hardships of travel and defend themselves from wild creatures and  thieves.

Modern Karate

Modern day Karate came from China and before this, it was practiced in Ryukyu kingdom now southern islands of Japan. Living record of Karate is in the Okinawan Karate Musium, which displays local Chinese weaponary. You can trace the roots of Karate back to early combat systems of China and martial art history of ancient India.

Japan’s  oldest book “Kojiki”  i.e  “Record Of Ancient Matters”  from 8th centuary refers ways of war / combat system and warrior’s admiration for sword. This thing shows that Japanese Karate came later. In between 1603 -1868 , there wasn’t any history of Karate. After 1868 common people joined former Samurai to study martial arts and then it came into practice in form of Judo (gentle way) , then Kendo (way of sword).

In 1911 both these arts became a part of school education system until 1945. In 1927, National Organization of Japan made some rules, so that players can compete with each other. Meanwhile Okinawa people practiced a technique by using bare hands, fists, elbows, feet and knees, named as China hand/ Okinawa hand. It was  introduced in schools by many teachers.

Father Of Japanese Karate

Master Funakoshi Gichin

Main credit in development of Karate in modern times goes to Okinawan scholar Funakoshi Gichin in Japan around 1922. He created Karate –do by adding his skills with the philosophy of Budo. He demonstrated his art in public and with the help of government he established Karate as a curricular subject within the University Education system.

Later he became “Father Of Karate” of Japan Karate. Over time , Funakoshi’s students grew it, some remained loyal to the Master’s technique and others modified them.

Global Expansion

Japan Karate Federation was established in May 1948. In October, 1957, first Karate –do tournament held in Tokyo by Master Funakoshi’s student Masatoshi  Nakayama Sensai. In 1970, the World Union Of  Karate –do formed and in 1990 its name changed to World Karate Federation. Karate introduced in Asian Games in 1994 first held in Hiroshima, Japan.  In 2020 it was included in Olympic games also. Now, Karate is practiced globally.

From Okinawa Island to Olympic Games , this weaponless technique of defense and discipline needs to spread more. It is not just a sport to play or source of entertainment to watch , if you make it a part of your daily routine , it can make you physically and mentally strong.


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