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Karate origins Master Gichin Funakoshi Sensei Tsutomu Ohshima

Shotokan Ohshima Dojo
The national dojo for Shotokan Karate of America in Santa Baraba, California

The Foothill Dojo and its parent organization, Shotokan Karate of America, share a rich history with skilled masters who refined the art as we know it today. Modern karate has remained true to its original intent as a means of self -defense built on a foundation of courtesy and self-improvement.

Karate began in Okinawa during the 16 century when residents were forbidden to bear arms and sought other means of self-defense. According to tradition, merchants visiting mainland China returned with details about a Chinese form of kick boxing known as “kempo.” Okinawans used it as the basis of creating their own brand of self defense. During the next few centuries karate, or “open hand,” evolved into its own distinct style.

Okinawans avoided reprimand by practicing karate in secret and often under the cover of darkness. They incorporated the kinds of etiquette strictly observed in every other aspect of their lives—respect for seniors, peers, the training location and even one’s enemy. Karate practice also became a means of learning about one’s self and interacting positively with others.

Gichin Funakoshi is considered the father of modern karate and unveiled the art in 1921 at a Tokyo demonstration. He was a former school teacher from Okinawa who dedicated his life to teaching karate, and translating the verbal tradition of karate into written history. Funakoshi writings became textbooks for training and martial mentality, and the karate he taught became know as “Shotokan”, derived from Master Funakoshi’s pen name. His students spread throughout the world and opened their own training schools, or “dojos.”

Shotokan Karate of America was founded in 1956 by Tsutoma Ohshima, one of Master Funikoshi’s last students. Sensei Ohshima continues lead Shotokan Karate of America from its headquarters in Santa Barbara, California. The values instilled by early Okinawan masters — courtesy, respect, self-improvement — remain at the core of Foothill Dojo and every other dojo within Shotokan Karate of America.

According to Master Funakoshi, “Karate begins and ends with courtesy.”

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