The origins of karate are believed to stem from the forms of unarmed combat (Kempo) developed in China by the Shao-lin monks around 600ad. These methods gradually spread throughout the Orient, from China to modern-day Korea and eventually to Japan and surrounding islands.
Techniques more recognisible as Karate appeared in the early 1600’s in the Ryukyu Islands – specifically Okinawa, which had been conquered by the Shimazu clan of Kyushu.
The Shimazu confiscated all Ryukyu weapons, forcing the defenceless people to develop a means of unarmed self-defence. Karate moved to Japan relatively recently, during the 1920’s where, taught by Gichin Funakoshi, it developed in to modern-day Karate.
Kyokushinkai Karate was developed in Japan by Sosai Masatatsu Oyama. Born in Korea in 1923, he originally studied Kempo before moving to Japan in 1938, where he studied Judo and, under Funakoshi and later Sodeiju, Karate. After the war, he spent a year in a temple on Mt. Minobu followed by two years living in isolation on Mt. Kiyozumi and it was during this time that he developed his own philosophy of Karate, Kyokushin – literally translated as ‘ultimate truth’.