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Many thanks to Christian Schart and Stock Exchange for providing the source image.
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This contest is fueled by the following news: Karate (Japanese “way of the empty hand”) is a Japanese martial art. This form was given to it in 1929 by Funakoshi Gichin under the influence of ideas of Zen-Buddhism, before that “karate” was recorded to mean the “Chinese hand”.
Karate came to Japan from Okinawa Island in the beginning of the 20th century. Okinawa was once the center of the independent kingdom Ryukyu which had very strong commercial relations with China and Japan. In the 17th century the kingdom of Ryukyu was won by the Samurais of the Satsum kingdom, and became its beneficiary. Presently, in western literature they write the legends which say that the inhabitants of Okinawa were constantly engaged in a guerrilla struggle against the Japanese aggressors, and for the sake of this struggle they invented the art of karate, though historical documents tell of a complete submission by Okinawans towards the invaders; the fact that for the three hundred thousand population of the island, there were only fifteen Samurais in the Japanese garrison speaks for itself. Martial arts on the island were basically practiced among the descendants of the Chinese immigrants, and gradually other people also started practicing it. In karate, cold weapons are not used. It is supposed that the reason for this was the conquest of the island and prohibition on the manufacture, carrying and usage of cold weapons. Nevertheless in karate the usage of other improvised means like sticks and nun-chucks etc is widespread.
Towards the end of the 19th century, during the days of the administrative reforms in Japan, the status of Ryukyu as a beneficiary state was terminated, and Okinawa simply became just one more prefecture of the Japanese empire. During the selection in the army, doctors found that many of the recruits from Okinawa had very good physical development. It was established that they were engaged in a local martial art called “tote” (old Okinawan name for karate). This served as an argument for the inclusion of karate in the teaching program in the elementary schools of Okinawa as a part of physical training and this led to its wide acceptance; one affect of this process was that karate began to lose the touch of the art of fighting and turned into fighting gymnastics.
In the beginning of the 20th century, there was a deep economic crisis in Okinawa, and inhabitants of Okinawa moved on mass to the main Japanese islands in search of work. They also brought karate with them. However the Japanese did not pay any special attention to karate until the 1920’s when the Okinawan master Motobu Choki defeated a western boxer in a public fight, and the magazine “Kingu” published a spectacular report on it. However, as the Okinawan dialect differed a lot from the classical Japanese language, the Japanese people tried to go to those who could teach in the classical Japanese language, and these were basically the people from Okinawa schools, who had studied karate as per the modernized training module. In this way in Japan, karate began to grow mainly as a variant of “sports”; there are many statements from Okinawa masters from the 1920’s to 40’s that say in Japan karate is totally distorted when compared with the Okinawan variant.
Clubs in the universities became one of the main centers for karate. As the student studies in the university only for a few years, for attracting the students the training programs in these clubs were changed to a great extent in comparison with the Okinawan training system: the youth did not want to learn the basic techniques for many years. This process resulted in the shifting of karate towards western sports, which finally came to end after the Second World War.
Karate is one of the candidate sports for an inclusion in the schedule at the Olympic Games. One of the obstacles in its way of getting the status of an Olympic sport is the high level of injury to the sportsmen.