Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri Okinawa in 1868. He was weak child. His parents took him to a local teacher, for his earliest Karate training. Itosu, and another Karate master Mr Azato, are the reason that he developed such a disciplined mind and excellent Karate technique.
The family doctor Tokashiki, prescribed local herbal remedies to strengthen him. This and his instruction in Karate technique, soon saw young Funakoshi becoming strong and healthy.
He went on to become an academic – a schoolteacher. He also decided at an early age to begin a lifelong study of the fighting arts of the Ryu-Kyu islands.
When Funakoshi came to mainland Japan from Okinawa in 1922 he was 53 years old.
He opened his first school in Meishojuku where he taught 15 kata: 5 pinan also known as the Heian kata, 3 Naihanchi (Tekki), Kushanku (Kanku), Seishan (Hangetsu), Patsai (Bassai), Wanshu (Empi), Chinto (Gankaku), Jutte (Jitte) and Jion.
Funakoshi soon gained a reputation as a Karate master. He insisted on ‘hito-kata sanen’ meaning to practice three years on one Karate kata believing that it would take a lifetime to master a handful of kata.
The 20 Precepts of Karate
Karate begins with courtesy and ends with courtesy
There is no first attack in karate
Karate is an aid to justice
First control yourself before attemtping to control others
Spirit first, technique second
Always be ready to control your mind
Accidents arise from negligence
Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo
It will take your entire life to learn karate, there is no limit
Put your everyday living into karate and you will find ‘Myo’ the subtle secrets
Karate is like boiling water. If you do not heat it constantly, it will cool
Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose
Victory depends on your ability to distinguish vulnerable points from the invulnerable ones
The battle is according to how you move guarded and unguarded. Move according to your opponent
Think of your hands and feet as swords
When you’re leaving home, think that you have numerous opponents waiting for you. It is your behaviour that invites trouble from them
Beginners must master low stances and posture, natural body positions are for the advanced
Pactising a kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another
Do not forget to correctly apply strength and weakness of power, stretching and contraction of the body and slowness and speed of technique
Always think and devise ways to live the precepts every day