It is widely understood that the origins of Karate are based in China and the Shaolin boxing style practised there, although Man would have undoubtably developed a martial art of sorts since the dawn of time back in Africa.
What is known for certain is that modern Karate was born on the island of Okinawa. The Island for many years was occupied by mainland Japan and as such a weapons ban was in place. This led to the development of the Chinese fighting techniques to be practised and developed in secret by the Okinawans. Around this time Karate was known as ‘China Hand’ as it was a discipline of fighting with no weapons while based on Chinese techniques.
In the 1920’s Karate’s most famous practitioner Gichin Funakoshi exported this new art to mainland Japan, and in order to enhance its appeal changed its names meaning from China Hand to Empty Hand which is the term we hold today. From this time many schools or Ryu were set up by senior Karate practitioners which developed into the styles we know today, such as Shokatan, and Wado-ryu.