Gichin Funakoshi is known today as the father of modern day karate. He was born in 1868 in Okinawa. As a boy he studied karate under two masters, Master Itosu and Master Azato. In those days a master only took on a few students and the practice of the martial arts was still kept secret. When Funakoshi grew up he became a school teacher, training in karate all the while with both masters.
It was during this time, Okinawan karate emerged from its seclusion to become a legally sanctioned martial art. Funakoshi, knowing the huge benefits of the study of karate, introduced karate into the Okinawan public school system. In 1922, the Japanese Ministry of Education held a martial arts demonstration in Tokyo and Funakoshi was asked to introduce Okinawan karate to Japan.
Funakoshi did not get the chance to return to Okinawa. His demonstration made a powerful impression on the Japanese public; Funakoshi was soon besieged with requests to further demonstrate and teach his art. Eventually Funakoshi had enough students to open the first karate dojo in Japan. The dojo was called 'Shotokan' ('Kan' means 'building', 'Shoto' means 'pine waves', which was Funakoshi's pen name). In 1955, Funakoshi established the Japan Karate Association. Funakoshi served as chief instructor of the JKA until his death in 1957. Since then, Shotokan students have continued his spirit and teachings.
Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868. Funakoshi passed away in 1957 at the age of 88. Funakoshi-sensei is the man who introduced karate to Japan and the World.