Gichin Funakosi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868. As a boy, he
was trained by two famous masters of that time. Each trained him in a
different Okinawan martial art. From Yatasune Azato he learned Shuri-te.
From Yatsune Itosu, he learned Naha-te. It would be the melding of these
two styles that would one day become Shotokan karate.
Funakoshi-sensei is the man who introduced karate to Japan. In
1917 he was asked to perform his martial art at a physical education
exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education. He was asked back again
in 1922 for another exhibition. He was asked back a third time, but this
was a special performance. He demonstrated his art for the emporer and the
royal family! After this, Funakoshi-sensei decided to remain in Japan and
teach and promote his art.
Funakoshi passed away in 1957 at the age of 88. Aside from creating
Shotokan karate and introducing to Japan and the world, he also wrote the
very book on the subject of karate, "Ryukyu Kempo: Karate-do". He also
wrote "Karate-Do Kyohan" - The Master Text, the "handbook" of Shotokan and
he wrote his autobiography, "Karate-Do: My Way of Life". These books and
his art are a fitting legacy for this unassuming and gentle
This is a photo of a memorial to Gichin Funakoshi. This memorial
to Master Funakoshi was erected at Enkaku-ji Temple in Kamakura in 1968.
The calligraphy at the right is by the master; that at the left is by
Asahina Sogen, chief priest of the temple, and reads, "Karate ni sente
nashi" (There is no first attack in karate).