The Martial Arts are probably as old as civilization itself. Early writings in Babylonian
and Egyptian cultures depict men teaching young men the use of various weapons,
and fighting techniques. The ancient Aryan civilization that settled in modern India
wrote entire texts on war, and hand to hand fighting, and usage of various weapons.
Around 520 A.D. it is believed that an Indian monk named Bodhidharma migrated to
the Shaolin, a Buddhist monastery in China. There Bodhidharma sought enlightenment,
he separated himself from the monks of the temple, taking refuge in a secluded
mountain cave. In the cave he sat and meditated for hours at a time. During times that
he was not meditating he practiced a series of movements from an Indian sutra. These
movements were used for defense against wild animals and bandits. After nine years
of meditating, it is said that Bodhidharma reached enlightenment. He then returned to
the Shaolin temple.
In order to help the other monks of the temple reach enlightenment Bodhidharma taught
the meditation and self-defense techniques that he used while living in the cave.
Bodhidharma’s teachings at Shaolin is considered to be the birth of Wushu in China.
Eventually Wushu practice spread throughout China, with hundreds of different syles
In Japan the entire country entered into a state of feudalism with a fairly rigid caste
system. The leaders of various domains sponsored schools to be opened where their
Samurai could be trained in various arts such as sword fighting, spear fighting, hand to
hand fighting, and many other types of combat were taught. These schools were the
early beginnings of modern day Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Bojutsu, Soejutsu, Aikijutsu, and
Jujutsu. Samurai were also taught many other arts such as flower arranging,
horsemanship, and poetry. They were considered not to be just warriors, but warrior
gentlemen. The ways of these warrior gentlemen is called Bushido.
In Okinawa, having been forbidden the use of weapons by the ruling Japanese, the
natives developed use of farm implement tools into weapon systems. Weapons such
as the bo (a six foot staff used to carry two pails of water), the sai (used to poke a hole
in the earth to plant seeds), the nunchukas (used to thrash grain). the Tonfa (used to
grind grains into flour), and the kama (a hand sickle used for harvesting crops) were
developed in secret to use against the Japanese.
As in China and Japan, unarmed combat was developed. Probably immigrants from
China were responsible for this, as for a long time the system was called Tote meaning
Chinese hands. Eventually it became known as Nahate.
In the 19th century an Okinawan named Kanryo Higashionna, a practitioner of Nahate, travelled to China. He spent many years there where he
learned various forms of Wushu. When he returned, years later, to Okinawa he blended the various forms of Wushu with the native Nahate.
Higashionna’s students later founded such styles as Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, and Shorei Ryu.
Around 1916 an Okinawan named Gichin Funakoshi traveled to Japan and eventually founded the Karate style of Shotokan. Funakoshi is
commonly regarded as the man who brought Karate to Japan.
In the 19th century many immigrants to the United States brought various systems of Martial Arts to the country. In the late 1950’s, masters of
different styles began touring and establishing schools throughout the USA.
Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo, was concerned that older Japanese Bushido systems were on the verge of dying out. Kano sought to develop a
gentle style by removing all of the fatal techniques commonly taught in many Bushido systems.
Masutatsu Oyama, the founder of Kyokushinkai, sought to develop a less stylized system of Karate. He blended Goju Ryu Karate, Shotokan
Karate, Judo, and Chinese Kempo.
Hideyuki Ashihara, the founder of Ashihara, sought to develop a practical system of Karate for use as self-defense. He blended Kyokushinkai, and
various principles of motion.
Shinkyudo combines techniques and principles from all three of the above mentioned styles. The goal is to achieve a practical means of problem
solving for all facets of life, using Karate techniques only when no other means of problem solving exists.
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