Origin of Karate
August 26, 2010 6:40am CST
Myth: Karate is a traditional Japanese martial art. Truth: No. Karate originated in India and spread to China before reaching Japan. The word karate is pronounced the same way in both Japanese and Chinese. In Japanese, karate means "empty hand"; in Chinese, it means "Tang dynasty hand".
26 Aug 10
From where did you get this information? I looked up the net but could not find any authentic site for this claiming that Karate is originated from India. Actually I think the orient has a lot of martial art schools all of which have more or less the same technique of combat. Also in ancient times, there was a lot of interaction between the people of Indian subcontinent, Tibet, China…the far east…a lot of ideas and techniques were exchanged between people so I really don’t think one can pinpoint Karate as having originate in India. In any case, even if it did the Japanese and Chinese have done more for the development and propagation of Karate worldwide and they deserve all the credit for it.
• United States
27 Aug 10
I believe this has come from several ancient Indian texts from the 1st and 2nd century B.C. which describe martial arts fighting styles. I am, however, inclined to agree with you that the Japanese and Chinese must be credited with bringing this art to the world.
1 Mar 11
Kung fu is known to be the mother of all martial arts. How did it start? An Indian Budhist monk came to China and trained the monks in the martial arts to defend the temple. From there the art spread to the rest of the countries which includes Okinawa (then not part of Japan). Since Japan made Okinawa part of their country, parts of Jujitsu and the native martial arts were combined which is now known as karate.
• United States
28 Aug 10
I, personally, have come to the conclusion that the development of martial arts got lost in history. It was said that karate (empty hand) was originally called the Chinese hand. This was because a long time ago, Japanese sailors landed in China, & learned wu shu arts from Chinese masters. However, as time went on, the Japanese wanted something that you can learn & master a lot faster, & therefore, changed a lot of aspects to what they learned. Chinese commonly use the term wu shu, or more commonly, kung fu (the latter meaning 'skill'). Now, this is where it gets sort of - not quite known. It is true that it was Buddhist monks who first developed/practiced martial arts, & that Buddhism was originally a religion that originated in India. If ten different historians who specialized in martial arts were asked, you would most likely get ten different answers, but several of the different versions were from watching different animals attacking for food & others defending themselves & possibly their nest. One story was one Chinese Buddhist monk watched a crane (a bird) & a snake fighting it out. The circular movements of tai chi chuan was based on watching the snake's movements, & the linear movements was mostly from the crane. Another version of where martial arts developed was from watching a tiger & a crane. A third version was that a monk learned it in a dream. Another version I have heard was that martial arts was not really martial arts. It was really only a form of exercise that one or a few orders of Buddhist monks practiced, basically for physical & mental health, perhaps something that monks did together. However, they got attacked, & discovered that it was also an effective fighting tool without weapons. Although tai chi is probably the oldest, it may have been a combination of what I had mentioned above. This may explain why there are so many martial arts, such as tiger claw, crane style, eagle claw, praying mantis ... However, over the centuries, many new styles were developed, such as hung gar, a combination of tiger claw & crane styles, & called Chinese boxing. This came about because one emperor made kung fu illegal, & wanted to hide it under the guise of sports. I have heard that karate is a modified/shortened form the Chinese martial arts. Keep in mind that it takes the average person over ten years to master tai chi, & most of the other forms/styles almost as long. The Japanese wanted something that would take only months instead of years to master. As I said, the Japanese originally called it the Chinese hand. They later called it the empty hand because war broke out between China & Japan.