November 10th 1868: Funakoshi born

On this day in 1868 Gichin Funakoshi, the ‘father’ of modern karate, was born in Okinawa. Funakoshi was a frail child, and began learning the martial art of karate from renowned teachers Itosu and Azato in order to strengthen him. He went on to introduce karate to the Japanese mainland in the 1920s, and founded the Shotokan style of karate. ‘Shotokan’ means ‘hall of shoto’ in Japanese, and ‘Shoto’ was Funakoshi’s pseudonym. He is also the man who changed the meaning of karate from ‘China hand’ to ‘empty hand’ reflecting both the lack of weapons and the Zen Buddhist concept of the inherent emptiness of all things. Whilst the original Shotokan dojo in Tokyo was destroyed by bombings during World War Two, the Shotokan tradition lives on and remains a major style of modern karate.