The Secret Practice
The martial art of karate originated in the Ryukyu Islands, which are known as the islands of Okinawa in present day. The islands are situated south of mainland Japan. Due to the location, Okinawan culture was deeply influenced by China. The predecessor of karate was simply known as “te,” or “hand.” “Te,” which was practiced by the Okinawan natives, has roots in Chinese martial arts.
The 1609 invasion of the Ryukyu Islands by the Shimazu family of the Satsuma clan (located in modern day Kyushu ), marked the end of autonomous rule. The Ryukyu Islands became a vassal state of Satsuma and its kings were subjugated. As weapons were banned, karate was developed and practiced in secret. Even the study of weapons featured farm tools, which would not arouse suspicion.
In the late 19th Century, Okinawa was annexed by mainland Japan and in the early 20thCentury, Okinawan masters introduced what became known as, “karate” or “empty hand,” to the nation.