Funakoshi., known as the founder of shotokan and modern karate, was a
professor at the Okinawa Teachers College in Japan and President of Okinawa
Association of Martial Arts. In 1922 he was invited to lecture and
demonstrate the new art of karate at the first National Athletic Exhibition
The demonstration turned out to be a great success due to the inspiring
personality of Master Funakoshi and he was flooded with requests until he
was able to establish the Shotokan, in 1936, which became a great landmark
in the history of karate.
He studied under Shuri- Te Master Anko Itosu and under Yasutsune Azato.
Funakoshi Sensei was not only a genius in martial arts but also a literary
talent and signed his work “Shoto” his pen name. Hence, the school where he
taught came to be known as “Shoto’s school” or “Shotokan”.
He combined the techniques and Kata of the two major Okinawa style to form
his own style of karate. As a result modern day shotokan includes the
powerful techniques of the Shorei School and the lighter, more flexible
movements of the Shorin School. When the J.K.A was established in 1949,
Gichin Funakoshi was appointed as the Chief instructor due to advanced
skills and leadership abilities. Although Funakoshi Sensei was famous as a
great karate Master, he always emphasized that the most important benefit
from karate training is the development of spiritual values and the
perfection of character of its participants. After training and teaching of
karate for more than 75 year, Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of
Note: Funakoshi sincerely believed it would take a lifetime to master
enough. He chose the Kata which were best suited for physical stress. A
belief that karate was an art rather than a sport. To him Kata was “Kara”.
“The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory nor defeat, but in the
perfection of the character of its participants” – Gichin Funakoshi
What is Karate
Karate is this: that in daily life ones mind and body be trained and
developed in a spirit of humility and that in critical times one can be
devoted utterly to the cause of justice:- Gichin Funakoshi.
Karate can also be described as a martial art or fighting method involving
a variety of techniques including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, and
joint manipulation, Karate practice is divided into three aspects –
Kihon(basic), kata(forms), and Kumite(sparring).
The word KARATE is a combination of two Japanese characters: “Kara” meaning
empty and “te” meaning hand, thus karate meaning “empty hand”. Adding the
suffix “Do” (pronounced ‘doe’) meaning ‘way’, i.e. karate- do implies
karate a total way of life that goes well beyond the self - defense
In traditional karate-do we always keep in mind that the true opponent is
oneself. Shotokan founder Gichin Funakoshi has said that the mind and technique
become one in true karate. We strive to make our physical techniques pure
expressions of our minds intention and to improve our minds focus by
understanding the essence of the physical techniques. By polishing our
karate practice we are polishing our own spirit or our own spirit mentality
for example, eliminating weak and indecisive movements in our karate helps
to eliminate weakness and indecision in our minds- and vice versa.
It is in this sense that karate becomes a way of life, as we try to become
very strong but happy and peaceful people. As Kenneth Funakoshi (Chief
Instructor of FSKA) has put it,
“We must be strong enough to express our true minds to any opponent,
anytime, in any circumstances. We must be calm enough to express ourselves
One of the unique features of karate training in IFFSKSA “face ourselves”
and polish our mentality or spirit”.