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Kanazawa Soke performing Sochin Kata
Kanazawa Soke performing Sochin KataEnlarge Kanazawa Soke performing Sochin Kata

Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho
Nobuaki Kanazawa KanchoEnlarge Nobuaki Kanazawa Kancho

What is Karate

Kanazawa Soke    Funakoshi O Sensei    

Tote was first demonstrated publicly outside Okinawa in May,1922, at the first National Athletic Exhibition, held in Tokyo under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Education. The main who was invited to give that memorable demonstration was Master Gichin Funakoshi, who at that time was president of the Okinawa Shobu Kai(society for the promotion of the martial arts). Tote (also called simple Te, meaning hand) was an art of self-defense that had been undergoing development in Okinawa for centuries. Because of the trade and other relationships between Okinawa and the Ming Dynasty in China, it is probable that it was influenced be Chinese fighting techniques, but there are no written records giving a clear idea of the development of Tote.

According to legendary accounts, Okinawa was unified under King Shohashi of Chuzan in 1429, and later, during the reign of King Shoshin, an edict was issued prohibiting the practice of the martial arts. It is known that an order prohibiting weapons was promulgated by the Satsuma clan of Kagoshima, after they gained control of Okinawa in 1609. Tote then became a last means of self-defense, but since the Satsuma clan also clamped down severely on this, it had to be practiced in great secrecy. For most Okinawans, there was no alternative, and they developed it into a deadly art as we know it today.

Not even a karateka's family would know that he was practicing this art, a situation which persisted until 1905, when the normal school in Shuri and the Prefectural First Middle School adopted karate as an official subject in physical education. However, its devastating power must have been known to some extent, for it was referred to by such terms a Reimyo Tote, meaning miraculous karate, and Shimpi Tote meaning mysterious karate.

In the 1800's karate evolved into three distinct styles; Naha-Te, a powerful and elevated style emphasising internal breathing and circular motion, Shuri-Te a linear, fast, dynamic style and Tomari-Te. Master Gichin Funakoshi modified Shuri-Te and Tomari-Te katas and formed his own style known as Shotokan. Master Chojun Miyagi renamed Naha-Te as Goju-Ryu after years of study. Master Kenwa Mabuni who studied under both Master Kanryo Higaonna (Naha-Te) and Master Anko Itosu (Shuri-Te) combined both styles to form Shito-Ryu (Half-Hearted style). Other styles have come into existence by combining these styles with Japanese martial arts such as Ju-Jutsu, Aiki-Jutsu etc.

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