Sensei Gichin Funakoshi The literal translation of Karate-do is “empty hand way” which clearly describes its aim as a method of unarmed combat. While Karate can trace its origins back through the ancient martial arts of the Far East, Karate itself is relatively modern, tracing its origins back to the island of Okinawa in the 19th century.

At that time the Japanese occupied Okinawa and the natives were banned from using weapons and Karate was developed as an effective means of defence. In the early 20th century Karate became established on the Japanese mainland and developed into a number of separate ‘schools’ under their own Karate masters. Schools such as Shotokan were established at that time. Following the Second World War and the US occupation of Japan, Westerners started to take an interest in the martial arts. However, it was not until the 1960’s that Karate clubs started to appear in the UK.

An Okinawan man named Gichin Funakoshi (top right) is the man who brought Karate to mainland Japan, and from there it spread to Europe and America. Funakoshi founded the style of Shotokan. One of his top students Hironori Ohtsuka went on to form the style Wado-Ryu. From these styles many others have been created with slight variations on technique and body positioning, but no matter what style of Karate you practice they remain fundamentally the same.