Karate Jutsu History

Okinawa, the main island of the Ryukyu Island chain, which stretches from Japan to Taiwan, is located some three hundred miles south of the Japanese mainland.

The Okinawans developed their own unique art of self-defence; te which literally means hands.

The art of te antedated that of Karate. The literature of the Ryukyus referred to the existence of te before the recorded performances of practitioners of Chinese-style Karate, or To-te, influenced the development of Okinawan Karate in the 18th century. Te flourished during the golden age of Ryukyuan culture under the rule of Shohashi in the 15th century. During this time te developed as it absorbed aspects of the martial arts from other countries, particularly China.

History records that a noted Okinawan named Sakugawa, over two hundred years ago, learned the martial art of To-te in China. He was known as To-te Sakugawa, which meant; Master of Chinese style self-defence and showed that the Ryukyu style of te was a unique entity before any outside influences.

When the Ryukyu Islands were annexed by Japan in 1609 all weapons were banned and the practice of martial arts was banned for three hundred years. The forbidden art was passed down from father to son among the Samurai class in Okinawa.

Not until the late 17th and early 18th century did the art of Karate take shape as te merged with the Chinese style of self-defence to form the present day Karate Jutsu of Okinawan Karate.

“He who overcomes others is strong. He who overcomes himself is mighty.”