Supreme Grand Master Gichin (Shoto) Funakoshi (船越 義珍)

(Shihanshi - protégé of Yasutsune Itosu)

Funakoshi Gichin

Founder of Modern Day Shotokan Karate

(10th Nov 1868 to 26th April 1957)

Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868. As a boy, he was trained by two famous masters of that time. Each trained him in a different Okinawan martial art. From Yasutsune (Anko) Azato he learned Shuri-te. From Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu, he learned Naha-te. It would be the melding of these two styles that would one day become Shotokan karate. He also founded the Shōtōkai, or association/group of Shoto which was later run by Egami Shigeru.

Funakoshi-sensei is the man who introduced karate to Japan. In 1917 he was asked to perform his martial art at a physical education exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education. He was asked back again in 1922 for another exhibition. He was asked back a third time, but this was a special performance. He demonstrated his art for the emperor and the royal family! After this, Funakoshi-sensei decided to remain in Japan and teach and promote his art.

Gichin Funakoshi passed away in 1957 at the age of 88. Aside from creating Shotokan karate and introducing it to Japan and the world, he also wrote the very book on the subject of karate, "Ryukyu Kempo: Karate-do". He also wrote "Karate-Do Kyohan" - The Master Text, the "handbook" of Shotokan and he wrote his autobiography, "Karate-Do: My Way of Life".

Funakoshi Sensei invented the belt ranking & grading system in 1924 when he awarded the first Dan (black belt) grades seven of his senior students. He copied (with respect) the idea from the inventor & Founding Father of Judo, Jigoro Kano Sensei.

Funakoshi Sensei therefore did not have a Dan grade or rank himself.

He was famous for saying “Karate wa kunshi no bugei” (Karate is the martial art of intelligent people).

His philosophy of karate a be found in "The 20 Precepts" or Niju Kun. These books and his art are a fitting legacy for this unassuming and gentle man.

He once said: "The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants - also, to Train both Body & Mind".

for more Quotes.....(click here)

for the Masters "Important Points - Six Rules"........(click here)

for his Training Precepts........(click here)

for his Dojo Kun (Dojo Rules)........(click here)

for his Three Cardinal Principles of Kata........(click here)

Gichin Funakoshi

More information can be found on Master Gichin Funakoshi Wikipedia or here

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page last updated on Thursday 16 September 2010