Gichin FUNAKOSHI(1868-1957): Founder of Shotokan Karate
Gichin Funakoshi is widely considered as the "father" of modern karate-do. He was born in Okinawa in
1868. He learnt "http://www.ashley.arachsys.com/pedia-karate.html" ("Hand of Tang" as the ideograms read at that point)
from two old masters, "http://www.ashley.arachsys.com/pedia-itosu.html" and Yasutsune (Anko) Azato, training secretly
at night , because martial arts were at that time banned in Okinawa. Eventually as attitudes changed, Funakoshi gave a demonstration
of his art to high Okinaawan officials. Funakoshi modified the art, taking inspiration from traditional Japanese "http://www.ashley.arachsys.com/pedia-budo.html"
(kendo, judo, etc) and emphasising the philosophical aspects. It was this new karate-do that he took to the Japanese mainland
and was the first expert to introduce the art to mainland Japan. In 1916 he gave a demonstration to the Butokuden in Kyoto,
Japan, which at that time was the official centre of all martial arts. On March 6, 1921, the Crown Prince, who was later to
become the Emperor of Japan, visited Okinawa and Master Funakoshi was asked to demonstrate karate. In the early spring of
1922 Master Funakoshi travelled to Tokyo to present his art at the First National Athletic exhibition in Tokyo organized by
the Ministry of Education. He was strongly urged by several eminent groups and individuals to remain in Japan, and indeed
he never did return to Okinawa.
For Master Funakoshi, the word karate eventually took on a deeper and broader meaning through
the synthesis of these many methods, becoming karate-do, literally the "way of karate," or of the empty hand. Training
in karate-do became an education for life itself. Master Funakoshi taught only one method, a total discipline, which represented
a synthesis of Okinawaan karate styles. This method became known as Shotokan, literally the clan or the house of Shoto, which
was the Master's pen name for his poetry, denoting the sound of the wind blowing through pines. It was through Master Funakoshi’s
hard work that in 1948, the Japan Karate Association ("http://www.ctr.usf.edu/shotokan/jka.html") was established.
The establishment of the J.K.A lead the way to the spread of karate throughout the world. Masatoshi Nakayama, one of Funakoshi's
greatest students, succeeded him as the head of the J.K.A.
Shihan Masatoshi NAKAYAMA 10th Dan (1913-1987): J.K.A Chief Instructor
Sensei Masatoshi Nakayama was born in 1913 and began training in Karate under the great master Funakoshi
Gichin in 1931. After graduating from Takushoko University in 1937 he went to Peking to study Chinese, whilst there he also
studied various styles of Chinese fighting. He became the 2nd Chief Instructor of the J.K.A after Sensei Funakoshi
passed away in November 1957. He was responsible for the global dissemination of Karate in the 1960's and 1970's, and for
placing it on a firm scientific foundation after performing an in-depth study of the principles of Kinesiology, Anatomy, Psychology
& Physics involved in Karate training. He has published a number of books including "Dynamic Karate", an in depth study
of Kihon (basics) and produced videos providing detailed technical and practical information on Kata, Kihon and Kumite. Sensei
Masatoshi Nakayama passed away on April 15th, 1987 at the age of 74. He held the grade of 10thDan.
The "J.K.A Instructor Program" started by the late Master Masatoshi Nakayama is what makes the J.K.A
unique from other karate organizations. The most promising students were selected and enrolled in this full time program for
at least one year. Upon completion of the program, these graduates became ambassadors of J.K.A Shotokan Karate, introducing
Shotokan Karate to Europe, North and South America, South East Asia and Africa. Some very well known graduates of the program
include: Hiroyoshi Okazaki (USA),Keinosuke Enoeda (Great Britain),Hideo Ochi Germany) and Hiroshi Shirai (Italy).Because of
this program, Shotokan Karate spread very quickly throughout the world and is the most widely practiced style of karate today.
Today, karate is a martial art practiced not only in Japan but all over
the world. Before Gichin Funakoshi, karate was only a regional art of Okinawa (tei and later toudei) and was transmitted from
masters to their followers personally.
|public performance of karate|
about in 1950
Gichin learned karate under the direction of Masters Azato Anko and Itosu Anko
over a long period of time. He also endeavored to spread karate, and became the Chairman of Okinawa Shobu-kai (Martial Art
When the Yashiro Fleet visited Okinawa from the main islands of Japan, selected sailors practiced karate
under the direction of Gichin. Since the art was so powerful, the Navy decided to not adopt the art.
In March 1921,
when Emperor Hirohito was still the Crown Prince, he visited Okinawa en-route to a visit to Europe. Gichin Funakoshi led a
public performance of karate, which was performed by selected students at the Grand Hall of Shuri Castle, in front of the
The Crown Prince gave his impressions as "karate is so miraculous".
In May 1922, Gichin attended the
First Budo and Physical Education Exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education at the request of School Section of Okinawa
Prefectural government, and demonstrated Okinawa's art of self defense "karate". This was the first performance in the main
islands of Japan.
Gichin demonstrated forms of karate, and explained the forms using three figures.
After the exhibition,
he gave lectures and demonstrations of karate at various places to meet with the demands of Kodo-kan, legal circles, junior
high schools, Pupura Club, etc.
He did not return to Okinawa but stayed in Tokyo to spread karate-do under the name of
"Karate Kenkyukai", giving lessons in various universities and to the police.
In 1924, he changed the name " (Chinese hands)" to " (empty hands) and "karate-jutsu (karate techniques)" to "karate-do (karate way)" based on the advice of Superntendent Priest
E kun of Kamakura Enkakuji Temple. "" represents the spirit of Budo, which is self defense using no arms, and the ideology of the Wisdom Sutras.
At this point,
the Okinawan art of "karate-jutsu" was uplifted to encompass spiritual discipline.
Gichin wrote the twenty lessons
of karate to show the attitudes that people must have to learn karate and the philosophy of life for karate trainees.
1936, Gichin changed the name "Dai-nihon Karate-do Kenkyukai", which was established to promote communication and information
exchange among people who study karate-do, to "Dai-nihon Karate-do Shoto-kai".
"Shoto" was the pen name of Gichin.
1939, Gichin constructed a karate dojo "Dai-nihon Karate-do Shoto-kan" in Zoshigaya, Mejiro, with the co-operation of Gigo
Funakoshi and other followers.
Shoto-kan played the central role in the technical aspects as the main dojo of Dai-nihon
Karate-do Shoto-kai, and established the systematic daily exercises, which are generally practiced today.
Taikyoku no kata, kumite ten-no kata, and kon no kata "matsukaze".
Until he passed away in 1957, Gichin endeavored
to spread knowledge of karate-do as the Chairman of Nihon Karate-do Shoto-kai.
Gichin Funakoshi is thus called the Father
of modern karate-do.
Gigo Funakoshi (1906 - 1945)
is the third son of Gichin Funakoshi, and moved from Okinawa to Tokyo to live with his father when he was 17. Gigo became
a radiographer of the Section of Physical and Medical Consultation of the Ministry of Education.
When Takeshi Shimoda,
who was karate shihan-dai teaching in various universities, passed away, Gigo assumed his position and kept in touch with
Technically, Gigo was a faithful successor of Gichin and improved and developed moves.
played the central role in inventing Taikyoku no kata, kumite ten-no kata, and kon no kata "matsukaze", and in formualting
and establishing technical systems of Shoto-kai karate-do.
Gigo led the construction of Dai-nihon Karte-do Shoto-kan
Giei Funakoshi (1900 - 1961)
Funakoshi is the first son of Gichin Funakoshi. After Gigo died still young and Gichin passed away, karate became simply a
fighting sport, ignoring the words of Gichin. Giei deplored the situation and succeeded in teaching the karate-do of Gichin
after becoming the second chairman of Nihon Karate-do Shoto-kai.
Giei emphasized the importance of reconstructing Shoto-kan
dojo as a technical center and as a place of training. Giei passed away before the new dojo was built, but laid the foundation
for its construction.