History and Style Guide of Karate
Karate was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to its 19th-century annexation by Japan. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans.
In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs. In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from 唐手 (“Chinese hand” or “Tang hand” verbatim, as the name of the Tang dynasty was a synonym to China in Okinawa) to 空手 (“empty hand”) – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style
Gichin Funakoshi interpreted the “kara” of Karate-dō to mean “to purge oneself of selfish and evil thoughts. For only with a clear mind and conscience can the practitioner understand the knowledge which he receives.” Funakoshi believed that one should be “inwardly humble and outwardly gentle.” Only by behaving humbly can one be open to Karate’s many lessons. This is done by listening and being receptive to criticism. He considered courtesy of prime importance. He said that “Karate is properly applied only in those rare situations in which one really must either down another or be downed by him.” Funakoshi did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime. He stated that Karate practitioners must “never be easily drawn into a fight.” It is understood that one blow from a real expert could mean death. It is clear that those who misuse what they have learned bring dishonor upon themselves. He promoted the character trait of personal conviction. In “time of grave public crisis, one must have the courage…to face a million and one opponents.” He taught that indecisiveness is a weakness.
After World War II, members of the US military learned karate in Okinawa or Japan and then opened schools in the USA. In 1945 Robert Trias opened the first dojo in the United States in Phoenix, Arizona, a Shuri-ryū karate dojo. In the 1950s, Edward Kaloudis, William Dometrich (Chitō-ryū), Ed Parker (Kenpo), Cecil Patterson (Wadō-ryū), Gordon Doversola (Okinawa-te), Louis Kowlowski, Don Nagle (Isshin-ryū), George Mattson (Uechi-ryū), Paul Arel (Sankata, Kyokushin, and Kokondo) and Peter Urban (Gōjū-kai) all began instructing in the US.
Tsutomu Ohshima began studying karate while a student at Waseda University, beginning in 1948, and became captain of the university’s karate club in 1952. He trained under Shotokan’s founder, Gichin Funakoshi, until 1953. Funakoshi personally awarded Ohshima his sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank in 1952. In 1957 Ohshima received his godan (fifth degree black belt), the highest rank awarded by Funakoshi. This remains the highest rank in SKA. In 1952, Ohshima formalized the judging system used in modern karate tournaments. However, he cautions students that tournaments should not be viewed as an expression of true karate itself.
Ohshima left Japan in 1955 to continue his studies at UCLA. He led his first U.S. practice in 1956 and founded the first university karate club in the United States at Caltech in 1957. In 1959 he founded the Southern California Karate Association (SCKA), as additional Shotokan dojos opened. The organization was renamed Shotokan Karate of America in 1969.
In the 1960s, Jay Trombley (Gōjū-ryū), Anthony Mirakian (Gōjū-ryū), Steve Armstrong, Bruce Terrill, Richard Kim (Shorinji-ryū), Teruyuki Okazaki (Shotokan), John Pachivas, Allen Steen, Sea Oh Choi (Hapkido), Gosei Yamaguchi (Gōjū-ryū), Mike Foster (Chito-ryu/Yoshukai) and J. Pat Burleson all began teaching martial arts around the country.
In 1961 Hidetaka Nishiyama, a co-founder of the JKA and student of Gichin Funakoshi, began teaching in the United States, founding afterwards the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF). Takayuki Mikami were sent to New Orleans by the JKA in 1963.
In 1964, Takayuki Kubota, founder of Gosoku-ryū, relocated the International Karate Association from Tokyo to California.
Seido Karate was founded by Tadashi Nakamura
In 1970 Paul Arel founded Kokondo Karate which is a sister style of Jukido Jujitsu developed in 1959. Kokondo synthesized techniques and kata from Arel’s previous experience in Isshin Ryu, Sankata & Kyokushin Karate.