Gichin Funakoshi, born in 1868 in Okinawa, began his primary training with two Okinawan instructors: Yasutsune Azato and Yasutsune ('Anko') Itosu. It is widely speculated that Funakoshi comined Itosu's style, Shorei-Ryu (a hard, heavy system) and Azato's style, Shorin-Ryu (a light, quick style), to create his own system, which would later be called Shotokan. The speculation about the origin of Shotokan remains just that, as Funakoshi provides little bigoraphical information himself, and the oral histories passed down since the turn of the centruy have led to many conflicting ides.
The word Shotokan menas "House of Shoto", which was a psuedonym that Funakoshi used when he composed poetry. Shoto means "waving pines", an image derived from his childhood home. Shotokan, therefore, directly translates as "House of the Waving Pines."
Funakoshi's primary gift to karate is that it was he who truly campaighed for the development of karate-do, the art of karate. To him, karate was much more than a crude series of street-fighting tactics, it was truly an art, one which refined the student both physically and socially. He always frowned upon the false pride and egotism of others, as well as crude systems which were developing in Japan and Okinawa. His contributions to the realm of karate, in its development, refinement, and dispersement, have led to his consideration as the father of modern karate-do.
"…since karate is a martial art, you must practice with the utmost seriousness from the very beginning. This means going beyond being simply diligent or sincere in your training. In every step, in every movement of your hand, you must imagine yourself facing an opponent with a drawn sword."
"Each and every punch must be made with the power of your entire body behind it, with the feeling of destroying your opponent with a single blow. You must believe that if your punch fails, you will forfeit your won life. Thiking this, your mind and energy will be concentrated, and your spirit will express itself to its fullest. No matter how muct time you devote to practice, no matter how many monaths and years pass, if your practice consistss of no more than moving your arms and legs, you might as well be studying dance. You will never come to kno wthe true meaning of karate…"
"Karate-do is a noble martial art, and (one) can rest assured that those who take pride in breaking borards or smashing tiles, or who boast of being able to perform outlandish feats… really know nothing about karate. They areplaying around in the leaves and branches of a great tree, without the slightest concept of the trunk."
-G. Funakoshi, Karate-Do Nyumon, 1943