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Karate/Karate Question.


Hello my name is Jay. I was hopping you could answer a couple questions I have about Karate and its origin.
First, why was Karate invented/created?

Second, why do the belts have the colors they have?

Lastly, how long have you been studying Karate?

Thank you very much for your time.


Good Morning, Jay.
Please let me take your questions in reverse order as I want to save the most interesting question for last.

I begain the study of what we now call Karate in the summer of 1967, so my little hand held calculator tells me that's 47 years.

There is a funny story about the color of belts that all began in I belive 1904. Juro Kano was a judo master who is credited with creating the "black belt". People used to tie their clothing together with a sash. When students began they all has nice clean clothing but as time passed things got dirty - and that's how a "white" belt got to be a "Black" belt - a student hung around long enough to get his belt dirty.

And now to the most interesting question and one I have been chasing for a very long time. Across all cultures and all continents, the study of unarmed combat dates back so far into history and pre history that no one knows when it began. I've seen images of combat in ancient Egyptian art, we know the Greeks studied a form of unarmed combat, and the American Indian too had forms, kind of like a judo system.

What is known today as Karate has had many names over the many centuries. The origin comes from China where an Indian prince journeyed from Madrass into Loyang in central China about 537 AD. At the time there had been a small monastery dedicated to the study of Buddhist script but this Indian Prince changed that as he started instructing the monks at the Shao Linn Tsuu  - which means Pine Forest Monestery so named for the surrounding pines, in physical exercises. Today Shao Linn is mostly a political monument and kind of a tourist trap but there still exists one of the oldest buildings in all China, and if you know where to look and what to look for there is an amazing secret hidden there.

Around the year 1390 an Okinawan fisherman lost his way as sea ( The report from Master Yuichi Kuda was that the guy got drunk and passed out)  and washed up on the beach in China. This was the first contact between Okinawa and China and it formed an association that lasted for many centuries.  Even today the Okianan people think of themselves more as Chinese than Japanese and there are some very deep cultural resentments over the way the Japanese have historically mistreated the Okinawan people.

So the short of a very long story is that what the words sees today as "Karate' is in fact Okinawan in origin. In about 1913 an Okinawa school teacher, Gichin Funakoshi, traveled to Japan and introduced what was then sometimes called "To - Te" pronounced "toe tay" or "Tang Hands" from the Tang Dynasty.

The Shao Linn had a long history, which ended in 1928 with the Communists.

There's a lot more here but in view of the value of your time I'll stop here. If you have more questions do please let me know.


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Laurence Lance


I can answer questions on history, culture and on actual self defense effectivness of Okinawian Karate and some systems of Japanese Karate


Experience in the area I started learning Karate in 1967, so I'm comming up on 40 years experience. I have studied with four men ranked 8th Dan or higher. Organizations Over the past 40 years I have belonged to a variety of Okinawian Karate groups. As different masters have retired or passed away the groups have been renamed, so while I have belonged to differntly named organizations it has pretty much always been within the same family.< Education/Credentials My current certificate is Kiyoshi, 6th Dan.< Awards and Honors Kiyoshi is an honorific title signifing the full ability to teach. Past/Present clients I teach only on refferal and only privately.
Update:June 2007 Shortly before he passed away the head of the system in America, Ken Penland awarded me the certificate of Nanadan, which is a 7th degree, and considered a Master Level teaching certificate. I have known Ken since the early 80s. In those years he and I have written a number of historical research papers. Ken lived in Southern California but visited Seattle on several occasions and stayed with me on those visits. I am going to miss him but I know he expects me to continue research into our art.

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