Origin of Karate Do :

While sport Karate is a product of 20th century, it's roots can be traced to ancient India, China, Onikawa. India, which developed Yoga and its various breathing methods, has greatly influnced the fighting techniquesof the east. Many scholers consider India to be the birth place of Martial Arts. During the 5th and 6th centuries B.C., Indian combat techniques resembling modern Karate were transferred to China by Zen Buddhist monks.

Before the advent of Buddhism in Indai, medicine had already discovered and codified vital points of the human body. It is said that their practical applications to fighting were made on live subjects by local fighters.

It is thought that at the end of the 5th century AD. a Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma travelled to china from India to teach the Shao-lin Monastery. there he taught the monks a combination of Yoga and Indian fist fighting that become the fighting system of Shao-lin. As tha art proliferated throughout China, variations and local styles appeared.

Even in ancient Greece, where courage and physical development were valued at their highest, it is said that around 800 B.C. , every Greek male was adept in Pankration, a very voilent form of fighting which often ended with the death of one of the contestants.

Development of Karate in Okinawa :

In 1932 , Chinese families emigrated to Okinawa, introducing Kempo to the islands, In 1429, the Okiwan King Shohashi unified the islands under his rule and banned all weapons. This prohibition led the people into covert oppositions and gave a tremendous impetus to the arts of empty-handed fighting. In 1609 Okiwan islands were conquered by Shimazu. Shimazu issued strict laws on all weapons and Martial arts practice. Once again the Okiwans went undercover and developed the art of empty handed fighting to a formidable degree of efficiency, developing a parallel practice of using farm implements as defensive weapons against Samurai swords.

Okiwan Master Kenryo Higoshionna is believed to be the master of Modern Karate. Master Higoshionna was born in Naha city in 1851. Higoshionna at the age of 10 began helping his father in the family business that consisted of transporting firewood in a small junk from island. By all accounts Higashionna was physically small for his age, but very quick in his movements. When he was 11 or 12 years old, he developed an interest in the Martial arts and began to train with a local Martial arts teacher who was teaching a Fukein style of Kung-fu.

In 1874 Higashionna travelled to China and spent the next 15 years learning Kung-fu from chinese masters. It is believed that master Higashionna studied White Crane Kempo from Master Ryo Ryo Ko.

Development of Karate in Japan :

In 1879, the Ryukyu islands became Japanese provinces and Okiwan Karate went to Japan. The first official demonstration outside of Okinawa was held in 1916 by Okiwan experts including Gichin Funakoshi who founded Shotokan. In 1929, Chojun Miyagi founder of Goju Ryu went to Japan to teach his style to Sensai Gogen Yamaguchi.

Sensai Gogen Yamaguchi was responsible for the spread of Goju Ryu in Japan. In the same year, Kenwa mabuni founded Shito Ryu in Japan.

Different Styles Of Karate:

Okiwan Styles
Goju - Ryu Master Chojun Miyagi 1929
Isshin - Ryu Tatsuo Shimabuku 1954
Shorei Ryu Choki Motobu -
Shorin Ryu Choshin Chibana 1933
Uechi Ryu Kanbon Uechi 1947

Japanese Styles
Kyokushinkai Masutatsu Oyama 1961
Shito Ryu Kenwa Mabuni 1929
Shotokan Gichin Funakoshi 1936
Wado Ryu Ohtsuka Horonori 1939


In order to attempt some unification atleast in the sport, two major world organisations were formed in the early 1970's - WUCO- World Union of Karate Organisations and IMKF-International Amateur Karate Federation.