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If any one person can be attributed as the founder of Shotokan Karate, then it is Gichin Funakoshi. Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868. As a boy, he was trained by two famous masters of that time. Each trained him in a different Okinawan martial art. From Yasutsune Azato he learned Shuri-te. From Yasutsune Itosu, he learned Naha-te. The joining of these two styles would one day become Shotokan karate.

Funakoshi-Sensei is the man who introduced karate to Japan. In 1917 he was asked to perform his martial art at a physical education exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education. He was asked back again in 1922 for another exhibition. He was asked back a third time, but this was a special performance. He demonstrated his art for the emporer and the royal family! After this, Funakoshi-Sensei decided to remain in Japan and teach and promote his art. Funakoshi Sensei, gave up much for his art, including leaving his beloved wife behind in Okinawa.

Funakoshi Sensei never gave a name to his style of karate. "Shotokan" was his pen name used for the poetry he used to write. "Shotokan" translates as "Pine Waves". His students in deference to the master, chose the name Shotokan for the style they trained in.

Gichin Funakoshi passed away in 1957 at the age of 88. Funakoshi Sensei wrote several books about karate and his life. Three of these books are very important as a legacy of Shotokan. "Ryukyu Kempo: Karate-do". He also wrote "Karate-Do Kyohan" - The Master Text, the "handbook" of Shotokan and he wrote his autobiography, "Karate-Do: My Way of Life". These books are a must read for the Karate student.

There are many quotes that are attributed to Funakoshi Sensei. One of my favourites is:

“Karate is like boiling water: without heat, it returns to it's tepid state”

 The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate: The Spiritual Legacy of the Master

Funakoshi Gichin.


Nakayam Sensei (April 13, 1913 – April 15, 1987) was an internationally-renowned Japanese shotokan karate-do master of the Japan Karate Association (JKA).

Nakayama sensei helped to establish the JKA in 1949 and is largely responsible for the style of JKA shotokan karate-do we have today, the JKA is renowned as the source of shotokan style karate. He along with many other senior instructors who where university professors and students refined and improved this style of shotokan which has come to be known as the JKA style of shotokan karate-do and is practiced by many organisations through out the world.

Nakayama sensei along with other senior instructors restructured and developed the JKA style of shotokan karate-do training program in accordance with modern sports sciences which include physics and mechanics.

Sensei Nakayama