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Funakoshi Gichin

(1868—1957)


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(1868–1957)

The creator of modern karate, Gichin was from the island of Okinawa, and introduced karate to the Japanese mainland in 1921–2. Blending poetry, philosophy, and the bodily practice of karate, he attracted committed followers and in 1936 established his specialist (Shotokan karate) dojo in Tokyo. Gichin's philosophy was that in karate the individual could transcend the egotistical self:As a mirror's polished surface reflects whatever stands before it and a quiet valley carries even small sounds, so must the student of karate render his mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately towards anything he might encounter. This is the meaning of ‘kara’ in karate.Gichin's beliefs challenged the nationalist hegemony of the established martial arts, and he was the chief instructor at the Japan Karate Association when it was established in 1955, though he died two years later. His work The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate has been reinterpreted by later practitioners, but is recognized as the founding text of the discipline.

As a mirror's polished surface reflects whatever stands before it and a quiet valley carries even small sounds, so must the student of karate render his mind empty of selfishness and wickedness in an effort to react appropriately towards anything he might encounter. This is the meaning of ‘kara’ in karate.

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