Karate (???) (English /k?'r??ti?/; Japanese pronunciation: [ka?ate] ( listen); Okinawan pronunciation: IPA: [ka?ati]) is a martial art developed on the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It developed from the indigenous martial arts of Ryukyu Islands (called te (??), literally "hand"; tii in Okinawan) under the influence of Chinese martial arts, particularly Fujian White Crane.[1][2] Karate is now predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes. Historically and in some modern styles grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital point strikes are also taught.[3] A karate practitioner is called a karateka (????). Karate developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Chinese. It was systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era.[4] In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in mainland Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs.[5] In this era of escalating Japanese militarism,[6] the name was changed from ?? ("Chinese hand" or "Tang hand")[7] to ?? ("empty hand") – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style.[8] After World War II, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.[9] The martial arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase the popularity of martial arts around the world, and in English the word karate began to be used in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Oriental martial arts.[10] Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art. Shigeru Egami, Chief Instructor of Shotokan Dojo, opined that "the majority of followers of karate in overseas countries pursue karate only for its fighting techniques ... Movies and television ... depict karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow ... the mass media present a pseudo art far from the real thing."[11] Shoshin Nagamine said, "Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one's own creative efforts."[12] In 2009, in the 121st International Olympic Committee voting, karate did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport.[13] Karate was being considered for the 2020 Olympics,[14]—however at a meeting of the IOC's executive board, held in Russia on May 29, 2013, it was decided that karate (along with wushu and several other non-martial arts) would not be considered for inclusion in 2020 at the IOC's 125th session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September 2013.[15] Web Japan (sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) claims there are 50 million karate practitioners worldwide,[16] while the World Karate Federation claims there are 100 million practitioners around the world


Karate began as a common fighting system known as te (Okinawan: ti) among the Pechin class of the Ryukyuans. After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China by King Satto of Chuzan in 1372, some forms of Chinese martial arts were introduced to the Ryukyu Islands by the visitors from China, particularly Fujian Province. A large group of Chinese families moved to Okinawa around 1392 for the purpose of cultural exchange, where they established the community of Kumemura and shared their knowledge of a wide variety of Chinese arts and sciences, including the Chinese martial arts. The political centralization of Okinawa by King Sho Hashi in 1429 and the policy of banning weapons by King Sho Shin in 1477, later enforced in Okinawa after the invasion by the Shimazu clan in 1609, are also factors that furthered the development of unarmed combat techniques in Okinawa.[2] There were few formal styles of te, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. One surviving example is the Motobu-ryu school passed down from the Motobu family by Seikichi Uehara.[18] Early styles of karate are often generalized as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, named after the three cities from which they emerged.[19] Each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local version of te from the others. Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines. The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese Kung Fu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges and partly because of growing legal restrictions on the use of weaponry. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced "Gojuken" in Japanese).[20] Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have originated in and around Southeast Asia. Sakukawa Kanga (1782–1838) had studied pugilism and staff (bo) fighting in China (according to one legend, under the guidance of Kosokun, originator of kusanku kata). In 1806 he started teaching a fighting art in the city of Shuri that he called "Tudi Sakukawa," which meant "Sakukawa of China Hand." This was the first known recorded reference to the art of "Tudi," written as ??. Around the 1820s Sakukawa's most significant student Matsumura Sokon (1809–1899) taught a synthesis of te (Shuri-te and Tomari-te) and Shaolin (Chinese ??) styles.[citation needed] Matsumura's style would later become the Shorin-ryu style. Anko Itosu, Grandfather of Modern Karate Matsumura taught his art to Itosu Anko (1831–1915) among others. Itosu adapted two forms he had learned from Matsumara. These are kusanku and chiang nan.[citation needed] He created the ping'an forms ("heian" or "pinan" in Japanese) which are simplified kata for beginning students. In 1901 Itosu helped to get karate introduced into Okinawa's public schools. These forms were taught to children at the elementary school level. Itosu's influence in karate is broad. The forms he created are common across nearly all styles of karate. His students became some of the most well-known karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Motobu Choki. Itosu is sometimes referred to as "the Grandfather of Modern Karate."[21] In 1881 Higaonna Kanryo returned from China after years of instruction with Ryu Ryu Ko and founded what would become Naha-te. One of his students was the founder of Goju-ryu, Chojun Miyagi. Chojun Miyagi taught such well-known karateka as Seko Higa (who also trained with Higaonna), Meitoku Yagi, Miyazato Ei'ichi, and Seikichi Toguchi, and for a very brief time near the end of his life, An'ichi Miyagi (a teacher claimed by Morio Higaonna). In addition to the three early te styles of karate a fourth Okinawan influence is that of Kanbun Uechi (1877–1948). At the age of 20 he went to Fuzhou in Fujian Province, China, to escape Japanese military conscription. While there he studied under Shushiwa. He was a leading figure of Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken style at that time.[22] He later developed his own style of Uechi-ryu karate based on the Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu kata that he had studied in China