Birth and Childhood of Funakoshi

Gichin Funakoshi is that one man who popularized karate, the martial art that we see with all its grandeur now. He was born in 1868 in a place called Shuri which was considered to be the capital city of the island of Okinawa. Funakoshi was passionate about karate right from his childhood days but he started his mission way too later in life after he turned 53. Funakoshi was a weak child with a not so fit physique, and his parents, worried about him and his defence capabilities in future, admitted him to be trained by a karate master by name Yasutsune Itosu. He blossomed under the training and guidance of Yasutsune Itosu and the medical herbal treatment remedies by the doctor. He grew up to become a disciplined karate student with a well developed physique and mind.

The Hardwork and Dedication

The first public demonstration of karate by him was given in 1917 in Kyoto, Japan. He moved to Japan five years later. He chose to stay with the other Okinawans at a students’dormitory in Tokyo. Hardworking as he was, he spent his daytime cleaning the dormitory when the students attended classes, and at night he gave them training in karate. He opened dojo after a while when he earned sufficient money. Funakoshi developed a habit of visiting a barracks located on palace grounds which was called the Shichi Tokudo. He visited the place to teach and found himself being accompanied by one of his most brilliant students, Hidenori Otsuka. After a while three of the senior students made up their mind to add more to the kata practice that they were focusing on. They felt that something more needed to be added to make it complete and as a result introduced jiyu kumite (free fughting) as an addition to their training. For this purpose, protective clothing and shield to cover their faces were included to be used to protect themselves from hard strikes. Funakoshi felt terribly disappointed as he felt they were belittling the great art that karate is. Being unable to discourage them, put an end to his visits to the Shichi Tokudo.

The Significance of Kata

Funakoshi gave great importance kata and he strongly believed in the fact that it is kata that makes a person become skilled in karate. It is said that when he moved to Japan he carried 16 kata with him : five pinan and three naihanchi,along with kushanku dai, kushanku sho, seisan, patsai, wanshu, chinto, jutte andjion. He was very particular about the need for practicing the pinan and naihanchi forms for at least three years before proceeding to the more advanced kata. The kind of training that Funakoshi delivered was effective to a great extent and the fact that his students developed the most apt and perfect karate remains a testimony for it. Funakoshi had to face much criticism about his obsession for kata, which was considered as soft karate by many critics. But this did not stop Funakoshi from being persistent on urging his students to concentrate more on kata.

The Goodness in Funakoshi

Funakoshi, though his interest lay in karate, is said to be a humble man. He loved peace and made it a point to be at peace with everyone around him. He was a man of Tao. He had no interests in competetions, breaking records or winning championships. What he was always focused on was attaining self perfection. He paid respect to the people around him and believed that people are to be respected and there should be a sense of belongingness. He is considered to be the master of masters because of his humility, greatness, dedication and willingness to work hard.