Martial Arts Wisdom

The History of Karate

There are many stories about how Karate originated. Drawings on Egyptian tombs depict men in Karate-Like stances using Karate-Like fighting techniques. It is believed that some of these techniques passed down through Turkey to India and then through trading ships to Okinawa where they were developed into a fighting form known as "te" (hand).

Other stories attribute the development of martial arts to a Zen Buddhist Monk, Da Mo, also know as Bodhidharma or Spiritually Enlightened One. Da Mo is said to have travelled across the Himalayan Mountains from India to the Hunan Province in China in 527 AD, to lecture on Buddhism.

While staying at the Shao Lin Temple Da Mo noticed that his monks were physically weak and suffered many attacks from bandits. He is said to have spent nine years in meditation in a cave before developing a series of exercises for his monks to practice. These exercises, known as Chi Kung helped develop the body both internally and externally. Later monks applied these techniques to fighting skills to develop the art of Chinese Kempo.

The monks are said to have studied the animals to develop their fighting system. Taking the strong points from such animals as the tiger, leopard, monkey, snake and crane different styles and fighting techniques eventually emerged.

Trade between Okinawa and China introduced the concepts of Chinese Kempo to Okinawa lead to the further development of "te" which became known as "Karate" (empty hand). Many of the Okinawan masters travelled to China to further enhance their study.

In the 1920s these techniques were introduced to Japan. This lead to the further development and the branching off of the many different styles of Karate.