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Shotokan Karate

G
ichin 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.

Photo: Young Funakosi
Gichin Funakosi

Photo: Funakosi teaching

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.

Gichin 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 man.

Photo: Gichin Funakosi in later years

Photo: Funakosi memorial

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).


  Excerpt from Shotokan For Everyone
Written by Ed Lafferty


 


 

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