Master Gichin Funakoshi is widely considered the primary "father" of modern karate due to his efforts to introduce the Okinawan art to mainland Japan, from where it spread to the rest of the world. Born in 1868, he began to study karate at the age of 11, and was a student of the two greatest masters of the time, Azato and Itosu (see also history).
He grew so proficient that he was initiated into all the major styles of karate in Okinawa at the time. For Master Funakoshi, the word karate eventually took on a deeper and broader meaning through the synthesis of these many methods, becoming karate-do, literally the "way of karate," or of the empty hand. Training in karate-do became an education for life itself.
Master Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce karate-do to mainland Japan. In 1916 he gave a demonstration to the Butokuden in Kyoto, Japan, which at that time was the official center of all martial arts. 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. In the early spring of 1922 Master Funakoshi traveled to Tokyo to present his art at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo organized by the Ministry of Education. He was strongly urged by several eminent groups and individuals to remain in Japan, and indeed he never did return to Okinawa.
In 1936, Master Funakoshi established the Shotokan Dojo (so named because Shoto was Funakoshi's pen name) at Zoshigaya, Tokyo. This was the first Karate Dojo (training hall) in Japan. Although others named his style the Shotokan style, Funakoshi himself believed that Karate is one and that there is no "style" of Karate. In 1948, the Japan Karate Association was organized, with Funakoshi as the chief instructor. Because this organization made it possible for leading Karate-Ka (practitioners of Karate) to pool their knowledge and ability, from that time onward progress was rapid, leading to development of the three aspects of present-day Karate -- self-defense, sport, and physical/mental art.
In April of 1957, Master Funakoshi passed away at the advanced age of eighty-eight. Tens of thousands of Karate-Ka who learned under him remain, insuring that the art he taught would not die with him. On the country, people in many foreign countries have shown an avid interest in Karate, and it is now a world-wide martial art.
Master Nakayama Masatoshi (1913-1987) Carrying On the Spirit and Tradition of Funakoshi Gichin's Work Master Nakayama Masatoshi had martial arts in his blood. Born in April 1913 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, he was a descendant of the Sanada clan, in the Nagano region. His ancestors were highly-skilled instructors of kenjutsu (the art of swordsmanship).
Upon entering Takushoku University in 1932, Master Nakayama immediately joined the university’s karate club, studying under Master FunakoshiGichin and one of the master’s sons, Funakoshi Yoshitaka. Deciding to devote his life to karate, he traveled to China after graduation for further study and training.
When he returned from China in May 1946, he got together with fellow Shotokan practitioners from his university days to revive the Shotokan karate tradition with Funakoshi Gichin as Supreme Master. Together, in 1949, they established the Japan Karate Association. In 1955 a headquarters dojo was built at Yotsuya in Tokyo. It spurred the building of JKA branch dojo all across Japan.
The efforts of the Japan Karate Association to embody and promote the spirit of karate-do were highly regarded by the Ministry of Education (now Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture). In 1957, the Ministry granted the JKA exclusive legal recognition in Japan as an official association of members for the promotion of the way of karate.
During that time and over the next several years, Master