HISTORY

KARATE’S MISSION and AIM

Karate was born when peace, the heart of the Okinawan people, was incorporated with the spirit of Zen as embodied in Chinese Shorin Temple boxing.  Its aim, therefore, is completely different from any other martial art.  Whereas the chief aim of all other martial arts is killing and wounding as many opponents as possible, karate’s primary concern is simply self-defense.  Of course, defense and offense cannot exist without each other.   Consequently, training in superior defensive techniques necessitates training in superior offensive techniques.

Now, the growing interest in karate results not from the excellence of its technique or the Oriental mystique: rather, this interest stems from an ever-increasing appreciation for the spirit of Zen Buddhism and the Okinawan spirit of peace.  It is this author’s fervent hope that the spirit of Karate-Do presented in this book with be understood and peace will come to the world through an appreciation of this spirit.

 

HISTORY of OKINAWAN KARATE-DO

Okinawa, an island country with few natural resources to support its large population, has historically imposed great physical and political hardship of its inhabitants. In spite of this, the people maintained an indomitable will to survive.  When unprovoked persecution and hostility greeted them, these basically peace-loving people drew on their inherent martial arts spirit.  They then fought weaponless against armed opponents, using only their bare hands in a self-defense method called karate-jutsu. Their hands and feet, normally occupied with non-violent activities, became, in themselves, weapons through the use of these techniques.  The technique called shuto (chop), still in use today, is a vestige of those early times when hands first functioned as swords.

Though much of their defense was unarmed, the Okinawans occasionally used weapons against armed opponents.  These weapons included the nunchaku, a neck of stringed instruments used as a wooden sword, and reels which were thrown as missiles.  Perhaps the prohibition of weapons by Lord Shoshin in 1488 and the famous battle of Keicho in 1609 were factors in the development of these karate weapons.  In the battle of Keicho, the people of Shuri City, lacking weapons utilized instruments of daily life.  The nunchakubegan as a horse bridle or wagon shaft, tonfacame from a potato digger or crop grinder, and timbeicame from a pot cover.

Some have argued that development of Okinawan karate techniques resulted from the use of these weapons, particularly at the battle of Keicho.  This, however, was not the case.  Karate techniques facilitated use of these weapons, not vice versa, and presupposed their utilization at the battle of Keicho.  In fact, deprivation of the right to bear arms stimulated the development of karate-do in Okinawa.