Our history

Latvian Karate-do Federation

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Latvian Karate-do Federation

In its current form, karate is less than 200 years old however it has roots that date back thousands of years.

The art originated on the island of Okinawa and in its early form was heavily influenced by ancient Chinese martial arts, collectively known as kung fu.

The Beginnings of Karate History on Okinawa

The history of Okinawan Karate can be traced back to the late 17th century when a ban on weapons was imposed by the samurai rulers of Japan.

The exact evolution of karate history is lost due to the lack of information being written down which is unsurprising when taking into account the strict rules against subjects of the island learning martial arts.

This meant that all training by early masters such as Kanga Tode Sakugawa (pictured) and Sokon ‘Bushi’ Matsumura, had to be done in secret and as weapons could not be carried on the island, self-defence tended to revolve around empty handed techniques.

The earliest surviving written evidence of karate in Okinawa was a mention of the word Tode (the Okinawan name for the art) in the late 1700s. It was in reference to a visitor to the island from China named Kushanku who taught a form of kung fu and may have introduced the first version of the Shotokan kata kanku dai. Tode style blended with the martial arts already being cultivated on the island which was known as Te, meaning ‘hand’.

Te was popular in three cities in particular, Shuri, Naha and Tamarai. Each city had its own way of doing the martial arts and modern day styles reflect this; Shotokan and Shito-Ryu are mostly influenced by the style from the city of Shuri, that is Shuri-te, and to a lesser extent Tamarai-te. Goju-ryu on the other hand is more influenced by Naha-te.