MASTER
GICHIN FUNAKOSHI

(1868-1957)

GICHIN FUNAKOSHI IS THE FOUNDER OF SHOTOKAN KARATE-DO-PERHAPS THE MOST WIDELY KNOWN STYLE OF KARATE-AND IS ATTRIBUTED AS BEING THE “FATHER OF MODERN KARATE.”

GICHIN FUNAKOSHI WAS BORN ON NOVEMBER 10, 1868-THE YEAR OF THE MEIJI RESTORATION, IN SHURI, OKINAWA-TO A LOW-RANK RYŪKYŪAN PECHIN UNDER THE FAMILY NAME TOMINAKOSHI. FUNAKOSHI WAS BORN PREMATURELY. HIS FATHER’S NAME WAS GISU. AFTER ENTERING PRIMARY SCHOOL, HE BECAME CLOSE FRIENDS WITH THE SON OF ANKŌ AZATO, A KARATE AND JIGEN-RYŪ MASTER, WHO WOULD SOON BECOME HIS FIRST KARATE TEACHER. FUNAKOSHI’S FAMILY WAS STIFFLY OPPOSED TO THE ABOLITION OF THE JAPANESE TOPKNOT, AND THIS MEANT HE WAS INELIGIBLE TO PURSUE HIS GOAL OF ATTENDING MEDICAL SCHOOL, DESPITE HAVING PASSED THE ENTRANCE EXAMINATION. BEING TRAINED IN BOTH CLASSICAL CHINESE AND JAPANESE PHILOSOPHIES AND TEACHINGS, FUNAKOSHI BECAME AN ASSISTANT TEACHER IN OKINAWA. DURING THIS TIME, HIS RELATIONS WITH THE AZATO FAMILY GREW AND HE BEGAN NIGHTLY TRAVELS TO THE AZATO FAMILY RESIDENCE TO RECEIVE KARATE INSTRUCTION FROM ANKŌ AZATO.

THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE, GICHIN FUNAKOSKI WAS A VERY HUMBLE MAN. IN HIS WRITINGS, HE PREACHED ESSENTIAL HUMILITY, WHICH HE ALSO PRACTICED IN HIS DAILY LIFE. HE PREACHED HUMILITY NOT AS A VIRTUE, BUT AS THE BASIC HUMILITY OF A MAN “WHO IS ROOTED IN THE TRUE PERSPECTIVE OF THINGS, FULL OF LIFE AND AWARENESS.”

FUNAKOSH SAID, “THE ULTIMATE AIM OF KARATE LIES NOT IN VICTORY NOR DEFEAT, BUT IN THE PERFECTION OF THE CHARACTER OF ITS PARTICIPANTS.”