martial art history

Karate is one of the most famous martial art techniques in world history. Not only Asians are fans of Karate. Even the countries in the West are active fans of this traditional fighting technique.

So how did Karate start as a martial art technique?

martial art history in japan

According to history books, Karate started as a self-defense technique used centuries ago by the prominent families in Okinawa, Japan. Karate is mainly involved with the use of “hands” or fist to fight. This is where its name was derived. “Te” which means “hand” controls the motion of this technique.

This technique emerged because during the time that foreigners conquest the islands of Japan. Warriors are prohibited to use any weapon made of wood or metal. That is why these brave men used their hands to fight. They used their bare hands to protect their lands from invaders.


important figures in the history of karate martial art techniqueBut the earlier forms of Karate were not only exclusive for the Japanese natives. The Chinese families prominent in Japan also started putting it in practice. These types of Karate were influenced by Chinese kenpo which the Chinese families introduced when they settled in Okinawa.

The three cities in Okinawa (Shuri, Naha and Tomari) developed three styles of karate namely Shuri-Te, Naha-Te and Tomari-te. Over time, these styles changed and what were left were only two: Shōrin-ryū, developed near Shuri and Tomari, and Shōrei-ryū, near Naha.

One question that is popular in studying Karate is that, was it a Chinese or a Japanese tradition?

The truth is that many books are claiming that Karate originated in India. Popular theories suggest that it was bought to China by a Buddhist monk called Bodhidarma (“daruma” in Japanese). The families who learned Karate from him then have to move to Japan in order to be safe from invaders. These families make Karate prominent all over the island of Japan.