Karate became established as a fighting system and discipline of self-improvement in Okinawa Japan many years ago. This came about because there were many trade relationships and routes established between Japan and China during the Ming Dynasty. Along with many exchanges of goods, came naturally the exchange of ideas and disciplines as well.
This introduced the Japanese residents of the Ryukyu Islands to many different forms of Chinese martial arts. Many Chinese families began to move to Okinawa in order to integrate and share culture. This created a community that shared a vast variety of many scientific and art-based Chinese cultures, including martial arts. What would further increase the study of karate was a policy set by the Okiawa king, one in which banned all use of weapons. This encouraged the development of unarmed combat training techniques to be developed.
It was in the fires of Okinawa and the political turmoil of the time that karate would begin to be forged. The earliest styles of karate are a composite of many other disciplines, including Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te. Though each version had slight technical variations and different principles, they all had generally the same purpose. Thanks to many legal restrictions on weaponry, as well as the integration of cultures, karate would develop into a powerful martial art that employed many different styles, solidifying into its own signature discipline that we all know and respect today.
Dr Leslie Griesdorf is a karate disciple who has recently earned the honor of receiving a brown belt.