Shotokan - An Introduction
Shotokan Karate Master Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957)
Shotokan Karate spread from Japan to the rest of the world. Master Gichin Funakoshi is credited with introducing the Okinawan art to mainland Japan. He was born in 1868 and began to study Karate when he was 11 years old under Azato and Itosu who were two of the greatest Masters of the time. Books or written records of training at this time are extremely rare because Karate was conducted under total secrecy and not openly as it is today. Karate was not ever practiced in public.
In 1902 schools began to include Karate as part of their physical fitness training. 1906 saw Funakoshi Sensei and a small group of individuals begin to give public demonstrations and together they toured Okinawa. It is said that Master Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce Karate-do to mainland Japan. On March 6, 1921, the Crown Prince, who was later to become the Emperor of Japan, visited Okinawa and Master Funakoshi was asked to demonstrate Karate. He traveled to Tokyo early in 1922 to demonstrate his Karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition organised by the Ministry of Education. It was here that he was strongly urged by several eminent groups and individuals to remain in Japan, and indeed he never did return to Okinawa.