Brief History of Modern Karate

A brief bit of history of where karate came from.

The History

Early Development

The history of the martial arts style of Shotokan karate begins with Gichin Funakoshi, a man that is given great credit not only for its birth but also for helping to popularize karate in general.

Gichin Funakoshi was born around 1868 in Shuri, Okinawa. While in elementary school, he became friends with Anko Asato's son and eventually began to train under Asato in Okinawan karate. Later, Funakoshi would also train under Shorin-ryu master Anko Itosu. Interestingly, Funakoshi never actually named the fighting style that he refined from Itosu and Asato's teachings, just preferring to call it karate. But when he started a dojo in 1936, his pen name of shoto (meaning pine waves) was used along with the term kan (house) by his students to erect a sign above the entrance to the establishment that said Shotokan.

Shotokan is a striking style of martial arts that teaches practitioners through a series of kihon (basics), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring) how to defend oneself. Shotokan is a hard martial arts style that emphasizes powerful strikes, long stances, and a lot of in and out techniques in sparring designed to avoid damage and end a fight quickly. Higher belts also learn some grappling and jiu-jitsu style techniques.

Basic Terminology

Here is the list of the belts and the levels they represent in order of low to high.

Numbers

1 = ICHI

2 = NI

3 = SAN

4 = SHI

5 = GO

6 = ROKU

7 = SHICHI

8 = HACHI

9 = KYU

10 = JU

Useful Words

Training School = DOJO

Teacher = SENSEI

Master = SHIHAN

Bow = REI

Yell / Shout = KIAI

Moves

OI ZUKI = LUNGE PUNCH

GYAKU ZUKI = REVERSE PUNCH

SHUTO UCHI = KNIFE HAND STRIKE

URAKEN UCHI = BACK FIST STRIKE

AGE UKE = RISING BLOCK

UCHI UKE = INSIDE BLOCK

SHUTO UKE = KNIFE HAND BLOCK

GEDAN BARAI = DOWNWARD BLOCK

MAWASHI GERI = ROUND KICK

MAE GERI = FRONT KICK

YOKO KEAGE = SIDE SNAP

YOKO KEKOMI = SIDE THRUST

Dojo Rules and Etiquette

• Bow on entering or leaving the dojo.

• Instructor must be addressed as Sensei.

• Say OSS upon receiving any advice or command from the instructor.

• Say OSS when bowing at the start and finish of the class, and when bowing to your partner.

• If late to class, then you must bow, say OSS and kneel waiting until ask to join the class.

• Inform your instructor before the session if you have an injury.

• Tell your instructor before the class if you must leave early.

• Show respect to each other, both inside and outside the dojo.

• Keep you Gi (uniform) and Belt clean and in good condition.

• Keep good personal hygiene and keep finger and toes nails clean and short.

• Keep fees up to date.

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