Development of Karate & Recommended Karate Books

Karate history can be traced back some 1400 years, to Daruma, founder of Zen Buddhism in Western India. Daruma is said to have introduced Buddhism into China, incorporating spiritual and physical teaching methods that were so demanding that many of his disciples would drop in exhaustion. In order to give them greater strength and endurance, he developed a more progressive training system, which he recorded in a book, Ekkin-Kyo, which can be considered the first book on Karate of all time.

The physical training, heavily imbued with Daruma's philosophical principles, was taught in the Shaolin Temple in the year 500 A.D. Shaolin (Shorin) kung-fu, from northern China, was characterized by very colorful, rapid, and dynamic movements; the Shokei school of southern China was known for more powerful and sober techniques. These two kinds of styles found their way to Okinawa, and had their influence on Okinawa's own original fighting method, called Okinawa-te (Okinawan hand) or simply te. A ban on weapons in Okinawa for two long periods in its history is also partly responsible for the high degree of development of unarmed fighting techniques on the island.

In summary, Karate in Okinawa developed from the synthesis of two fighting techniques. The first one, used by the inhabitants of Okinawa, was very simple but terribly effective and, above all, very close to reality since it was used throughout many centuries in real combat. The second one, much more elaborate and impregnated with philosophical teachings, was a product of the ancient culture of China. These two origins explain the double character of Karate--extremely violent and efficient but at the same time a strict and austere discipline and philosophy with a nonviolent emphasis.

KARATE BOOKS RECOMMENDED  (no particular order

  1. Shotokan Karate Magazine,  John Cheetham Editor, UK
  2. Karate-Do Kyohan - The Master Text by Gichin Funakoshi:
  3. Karate-Do Nyumon by Gichin Funakoshi  
  4. The Twenty Guiding Principles of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi:
  5. The Essence of Karate by Gichin Funakoshi
  6. Karate-Do My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi
  7. Shotokan Karate International Kata, Vol 1 & 2 by Hirokazu Kanazawa
  8. S.K.I Kumite Kyohan by Hirokazu Kanazawa
  9. Black Belt Karate by Hirokazu Kanazawa
  10. Karate for Kids by Robin L Rielly
  11. Moving Zen by C.W. Nicol
  12. The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
  13. Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams
  14. The Way of Karate by George Mattson
  15. Best Karate Series, Vol #1-11 by Masatoshi Nakayama
  16.  There are many more books which will be listed later.