Karate is a Japanese word that means 'empty hand'. Karate originated on the island of Okinawa and was a blend
of styles of martial arts derived from China. During periods in Okinawan history when ruling governments forbade possession
of weapons, we presume that empty hand methods of self defense gained widespread popularity.
One of the Karate masters of Okinawa was Gichin Funakoshi who began his training at the age of 11. As he matured he became
a school teacher in the Chinese classics and was widely respected as an educator as well as a martial artist. In 1917 he was
invited to Japan by the ministry of education to give demonstrations of his art throughout the country. At the time, Funakoshi
referred to his system as Onkinawa-te and later this became known as Karate-do, the way or path of empty hand.
In 1920 he moved to Tokyo and began in earnest to establish Karate-do as a martial art comparable to Judo and Kendo. The
Japanese were favorably impressed and by 1940 more that 30% of colleges and universities offered Karate. Master Funakoshi
is often referred to as "the Father of modern day Karate".
He was also accomplished in calligraphy and went by the pen name of Shoto (Pine Wave). Over time, as various Karate
systems began to develop, his devoted students named the style Shotokan, which translates into the "house of Shoto".