“Kara-te” means ” empty hand” and illustrates that Karate is a technique that allows anyone to defend oneself with bare hands and fists without weapons. Secondly, just as it is the clear mirror that reflects without distortion, or the quiet valley that echoes a sound, so must one who studies Karate-do purge himself of selfish and evil thoughts, for only with a clear mind and conscience can he understand that which he receives. This is another meaning of the element “kara” in Karate-do. Finally, in a fundamental way, the form of the universe is emptiness (kara) and thus-emptiness is a form itself. There are many kinds of martial arts but at a fundamental level all of them are built on the same foundation as Karate-do. It is no exaggeration to say that the original sense of Karate-do is at one with the basis of all martial arts. Form is emptiness, emptiness is form itself. The “kara” of Karate-do has this meaning.
The origins of what its called “Karate” today can be traced to about fourteen hundred years ago when Daruma (Bodhidarma), the founder of Zen Buddhism left India and moved to China. Bodhidarma set the system of mind and body exercises and presented it to monks in Shaolin Temple. That system was to be known later as Shorin-ji Kempo.
It is known that simple fighting methods existed among the Okinawan population in Japan (called:Okinawa-te) and that system became strongly influenced by Shorin-ji Kempo.That influence was the basis for creation of Karate.
The man who introduced karate to Japan (1922) was Gichin Funakoshi. He worked as a teacher and was able to build connections with existing educational system thus allowing young generation to benefit from karate both physically and spiritually.
Sensei Funakoshi is widely known as the “Father of modern Karate”. He taught many future karate masters – Masatoshi Nakayama, Hidetaka Nishiyama, Masutatsu Oyama and many others, all of whom led karate to new heights and successfully spread it throughout the world.
Today we all continue on the way of karate by trying to improve ourselves. We also must constantly seek new ways of applying the wisdom of Karate to different aspects of life.