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JKA History:

Gichin FutakoshiWith a vast membership in over 100 countries worldwide, the Japan Karate Association (JKA), headquartered in Tokyo, is the largest, most prestigious and influential karate organization in the world and one of the oldest karate organizations continuously in operation today. The JKA was founded by Master Gichin Funakoshi and his followers in May of 1949. Recognized heir to the Shotokan karate tradition, on April 10, 1957, the JKA became the only independent legal karate entity officially approved by the Japanese government as an association of members (Shadan Hojin) for the promotion of karate, and the only association granted a tax-free status. Only one other authorized entity falls under the umbrella of the JKA … the JKA World Federation (JKA/WF).

Karate History:

Gichen It’s almost impossible to verify the true history of karate due to the secrecy surrounding the arts and the lack of written records. Little is known about the early development of karate until it appeared in Okinawa, a small island of the group that comprises modern day Japan. In its early stages, the martial art known as "karate" was an indigenous form of closed-fist fighting known as Te (‘Hand”). It was a system of unarmed combat for protecting oneself and one’s country that was taught and practiced in secret in Okinawa (so as not to be observed by the rulers) after an edict, banning the possession of weapons on the island, was issued between 1477 and 1526. The Satsuma clan of Japan came to power in 1690 and continued the ban. The ban on martial arts was finally lifted in 1902 when Shintaro Ogawa, the Commissioner of Education believed that martial arts should be included in physical education in the first middle school of Okinawa. With karate's value having been recognized as a character-building, health-promoting martial art, it was soon being taught in many of Okinawa's sects. Anko Itosu was the first karate master to teach in Okinawa's schools. He was soon followed by a number of others, including Gichin Funakoshi (the founder of Shotokan).

Master Gichin Funakoshi:

Gichen Funakoshi

Master Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate-Do, is attributed as being the "father of modern karate." It was he who has had the greatest and most important influence in the development of karate as we know it today. Funakoshi was an avid poet and philosopher … Shoto was his pen name as a writer, The name Shotokan was given to Funakoshi’s karate by his students … named after Funakoshi's pen name Shoto,, which means "waving pines," and kan, which means “school.” Funakoshi’s legacy rests in a document referred to as the niju kun, or "twenty principles," containing his philosophies of karate training.


Gichen FunakoshiBorn on November 10, 1886, in Shuri, on the Island of Okinawa, Master Gichin Funakoshi dedicated his life to promoting the values of karate until his death on April 26, 1957, at the age of 88. He began studying martial arts at an early age under Anko Itosu and Yasutsune Azato, and progressed to the distinction of “most accomplished” artist in the field.

In 1922, Funakoshi was invited to Japan, to give a demonstration of Karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo. Continuing to pursue his training and develop his remarkable skills, he went on to become an instructor at the Okinawa Teacher’s School, as well as Chairman of the Okinawa Martial Arts Society. In 1948 Funakoshi established the Japan Karate Association (JKA), of which he remained the head until his death in 1957.

Masatoshi Nakayama:

Masatoshi NakayamaThe JKA Shotokan approach is based on Funakoshi's karate, but with significant adaptations introduced mostly by Masatoshi Nakayama, an internationally renowned Japanese master of Shotokan karate. Nakayama, born on April 13, 1913, in Japan, began studying Shotokan under Funakoshi at Takushoku University in 1932.  Martial arts was in his blood and he immediately joined the university’s karate club. He worked to spread Shotokan karate worldwide, and it’s thanks to him that karate is the successful martial art it is today. He and a few of his fellow JKA instructors developed a new, “rational method of teaching” that was tailored to the needs, level and goals of each student. He developed karate’s first ever match system.
Nakayama had attained the rank of 2nd dan by the beginning of WWII; was promoted to 3rd dan by 1951; and he held the rank of 5th dan by 1955. In 1956, he restructured the Shotokan karate-training program to incorporate both traditional karate and methods developed in modern sports sciences. Nakayama was promoted to 8th dan in 1961— a notably rapid and remarkable progression; and promoted to 9th dan in the 1980s. Nakayama was the first Shotokan master to be awarded the rank of 9th dan while still living. He taught Shotokan karate until his death on April 15, 1987, in Tokyo, Japan … he was 74.


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