Karate and the Olympics Part 1

The situation that contributed to the karate division starts in the university system in Japan, as many have been constantly been brainwashed with that Funakoshi Gichin Sensei is the founder of modern karate, this is not correct. Funakoshi Sensei was given board and lodging at a university in Tokyo and for his he was given a janitors job so he could live. This is one of the reasons why Shotokan (Funoshi’s pen name) not the name of the karate ryuha, the students of Funakoshi who started this movement from the university were nationalist and wanted to have their own style, much diffrent and independent from all other Okinawan or other Japanese organisations at the time. The universities in Tokyo especially those students that founded the Japan Karate Federation (JKA). This group regarded themselves as an elite group was they had direct access to the nobility and high society in the Japanese system and most of these individuals were imperialist or nationalist. It is through this association that they had access to resources and also to decision makers.
The brainchild of the creation of the JKA was through Keio University and Shichi Tokudo, it is this high level contacts that got the JKA’s recognition by the Ministry of Education, which is a very powerful endorsement, which is still enjoys until today. The students of Funakoshi also were at loggerheads as their was a group calling themselves the Shotokai, then there was those that believed that the JKA was changing the original teaching and then the JKA which was changing the karate of Funakoshi to bring a more acceptable Japanese favour to the karate they were presenting to Japn and the world, this is attributed to the fact that the Japanese would not accept that they were adopting a Okinawan art, as Okinawa was regarded as not at their social level, and backward. This is also the reason that Funakoshi had to change the names of of the kata he brought from Okinawa and the kanji from chinese Hand to Empty Hand. Again, Japan was at war with China and anything Chinese was not acceptable to the Japanese. It was this university group that started experimenting with kumite matches, for two reason. One to introduce free fighting as a way to show their prowess and the other Japan was at war and needed to instil the Japanese fighting spirit into the karate practitioners. These were brutal times as many freshmen were treated under very harsh conditions for them to prove themselves.
One of the prominent karate leaders and the architect of the formation of the JKA was Masatoshi Nakayama and a very talented Hideki Nishiyama, many karate-ka or seniors were drated into the army and the training of the karate classes were still ongoing, but very unorganized and everyone tried teaching their own favour of what they thought was what JKA was. It was this that forced the JKA to systemise their teaching and instructors structure. The famous instructors program was developed for this purpose. It was always the interest of this group and their high level backers to expand their karate as the trues Japanese karate, and they needed envoy’s to expand this imperialist and nationalist agenda.
It is with this backdrop that we must understand that the division of karate started at this type, nit because of style difference but because of class differences. It is a known fact on Okinawa that Funakoshi was not a senior students of the system he train in with Ankoh Itosu, and all his other teachers. But he was a fairly educated person and this is what appealed to the Japanese. Most karate instructor in Okinawa were not highly educated and very few spoke proper Japanese at the time. So the class issue was a big issue and the Japanese needed a face for “their”karate and Funakoshi was the ideal candidate.
In the expansion of karate the JKA started teaching at the American Army camps during and after the war, this gave them great networks to expand their karate world-wide. But at this time the diffrence in approach between the JKA group and the Shotokai group and others that trained with Funakoshi was started to become a serious problem. Actually Funakoshi was against the introduction of sport karate as he believe karate was a martial arts and could be a sport.
Nakayama Sensei’s father was very prominent Kendo-ka and Kendo had already started developing a competition system, and a lots of the early karate rules came from Kendo, that is why the linear fighting approach and the long distance fighting emphasis, this was another influence in the current JKA system of maintaining and long distance between the fighting practitioners. The Shobu Ippon system or sundome system was what the JKA was developing from the Kendo influence of one cut one kill. .This transferred to karate as Ikken Hitatsu, one punch kill.