History of Shotokan Karate
Shotokan's ancestor martial arts came to Okinawa from China around the mid-fourteenth century. In 1609 the Japanese gained control of the island and banned the Okinawans from having weapons. This ban contributed to the further development of unarmed combat in Okinawa.In 1806, Sakukawa Kanga, who had studied fighting in China, began teaching martial arts to Okinawans. Sakukawa's most significant student was Matsumura Sokon. Matsumura taught his art to Itosu Anko among others. In 1901 Itosu helped to get karate introduced into Okinawa's public schools. The forms he created are common across nearly all styles of karate. Itosu is sometimes referred to as "the Grandfather of Modern Karate.". His students became some of the most well known karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi. Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate, is generally credited with having introduced and popularized karate on the main islands of Japan. The style name Shotokan was given to Funakoshi's karate by his own students. Shoto was Funakoshi's pen name as a writer, meaning 'pine waves' and Kan means 'school'. So the students who trained at Funakoshi's 'school' were known as the Shotokan.
Funakoshi was invited to Japan in 1922 to give a Karate demonstration at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo. This event was organized by the Ministry of Education. Thanks to his efforts Karate became part of the regular school program in Japan.
Funakoshi taught his art form to many students in Japan assuring the continuing spread of Karate throughout Japan, and also throughout the rest of the world. As a result of Master Funakoshi's leadership, the JKA is presently one of the largest Karate organizations in the world. The current JKA masters, students of Master Funakoshi, are some of the most respected Karate practitioners in the world, known for their technical genius.
The main purpose of the JKA has little to do with physical technique than with actual personal development. This is revealed by Shotokan's motto: "The ultimate aim of the Art of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of the individual".