From the traditionalist point of view, Funakoshi must be considered the father of Japanese karate-do, as it is he who was responsible for making many important innovations to karate-jutsu and who brought this Okinawan art to the Japanese, and later, the western world.
In 1933, Funakoshi changed the concept of ‘kara’, which was originally written with the Chinese character meaning ‘China hand’, by substituting another character for ‘kara’ signifying ‘void’ or ‘empty. Therefore, the new karate-jutsu developed by Funakoshi meant ‘empty’.
Two years later, Funakoshi discarded the word ‘jutsu’ in favour of the word ‘do’ (‘the way of’). Thus karate-do (along the lines of ju-do and aiki-do) was born in Japan. The literal meaning is ‘empty hand way’, emphasizing the lack of conventional weapons in this fighting art.
It was during the American armed forces’ occupation of Japan after World War II that Westerners gained their first sight of karate-do.
Many US servicemen found the exercises and drills carried out by the Japanese ex-servicemen fascinating, so much so they wanted to join in and find out what the Japanese were doing. And so these US servicemen became early members of Japanese karate-do.
Although there was Japanese resentment towards foreigners in the classes, they had no option but to teach the Westerners (gaijin), fearing that rejection of the new students would result in the closure of classes and an obvious loss of income and therefore the art.
Once accepted by the Japanese, the US servicemen were taught the finer points of karate-do, making it possible for their knowledge to be passed on when they were posted back to the United States.
The goal of many of these Japanese instructors was to see their art flourish worldwide, and they could see the benefits of teaching Americans. Indeed, many Americans did set about teaching this strange new art of karate-do upon their return to the United States, and thus karate was introduced to the Americans in the early 1950’s.
With Japanese and American trade expanding rapidly after the war, many senior Japanese karate-ka (one who practices karate) visited the United States and some settled there permanently.
Today, every style of Japanese karate has a school some-where in the United States, and practitioners number many thousands.
A Worldwide Practice
A Frenchman called Henri Plee is credited with introducing karate to Europe, in 1957. Plee is acknowledged as being the first person to bring a Japanese expert in karate-do to Europe from Japan.
The person credited with first bringing karate-do to the United Kingdom was Vernon Bell, who trained under Plee in Paris and later brought over Japanese experts, such as Kanazawa sensei, a Shotokan stylist from Japan.
By the mid 1960’s, the demand for karate was so great worldwide that many Japanese karate-ka were invited to numerous countries to teach on a permanent basis, as it was felt that the standard of karate-do needed to be raised.
As a result, there are Japanese instructors resident right around the world, especially in the styles of Shotokan, Wado-ryu, Goju-ryu and Shito-ryu.
Today, it seems as if there is not a country in the world that does not have at least one karate club. In the past 50 years, the popularity of this art has attracted millions of people from every walk of life.
Funakoshi could never have dreamt that his beloved art would leave his small island of Okinawa and be studied and taught by people of every race.
Many laymen are under the impression that modern day kickboxing originated in Thailand, Japan or elsewhere in the Far East, in fact, the real origins of the sport are revealed by the real name by which it was known, full contact karate.
During the mid-seventies various American tournament karate practitioners became frustrated with the limitations of the then rather primitive competitive scoring system. They wanted to find a system within which they could apply kicks and punches to the knockout. Full contact karate was born.
Early bouts were fought on open matted areas just as ordinary karate matches were. Later events were staged in regular size boxing rings. These early tournaments produced kickboxing’s first stars, Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace, Benny Urquidez and Jeff Smith. Later the Americans really wanted to test their mettle and sent teams of kickboxers to Japan under the banner of the WKA (World Kickboxing Association). From this point kickboxing developed in to a true international sport.
Krav Maga (Hebrew for contact combat) is a self-defence system developed in Israel that involves striking techniques, wrestling and grappling. Krav Maga is known for its focus on real-world situations and extremely efficient, brutal counter attacks. It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Imi Litchenfield, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his immigration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what was to become the IDF, who went on to develop the system that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for civilian, police and military applications. Krav Maga has a philosophy emphasising threat neutralisation, simultaneous defensive and offensive manoeuvres, and aggression. The system is used by the Israeli Defence Forces, both regular and Special Forces, and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement and intelligence organisations. Outside Israel, Krav Maga is used by various special police, military and intelligence forces, such as American CIA, FBI, US Marshals, USAF, DEA, Federal Air Marshals and various police departments (SWAT teams), etc.
We have a direct lineage with the source.
Royce Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Royce Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu Jitsui began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio.
Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight. He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years. Royce moved to the United States at age 18 to live with his brother, Rorion. Together they opened the Grace Jiu-Jitsu Academy twenty years ago in Torrance, California.
Royce’s career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. Here he showed Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the world. Discipline after discipline was defeated by the slight 6’1” 180 pound Royce Gracie. The viewers were in awe. His opponents consistently outweighed him by more than 50 pounds. He went on to win 3 UFC titles and today is the only man in the history of no holds barred matches to successfully defeat four opponents in one night.
We have a direct lineage with the source.