Karate—the world’s most popular martial art—originated in Okinawa, with strong ties to Japanese and China fighting styles.


Over 1,000 years old, Karate began as a training practice for monks in the ancient Orient. It owes the fundamentals of its techniques to Kung Fu, from China, and Japan’s jujitsu fighting, but also contains elements of other fighting systems, including Roman gladiatorial combat, Japanese sumo wrestling and the type of weaponless fighting native to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.


Okinawa was under the strong influence of both China and Japan from the 14th century, but had its own language and culture until 1879, when it was officially annexed by Japan. Various rulers between the 15th and 17th centuries set a ban on weapons to prevent rebellion, which resulted in the rise of weaponless fighting techniques. The native Okinawan martial art, called Te (hand), combined with Kung Fu to become known as Kode Te (Chinese hand), which was changed to Kara Te (empty hand) around the turn of the 19th century with the advent of Japanese rule.


A fighter named Gichin Funakoshi was credited for introducing Karate to the Japanese, and later to the rest of the world, when he led a demonstration in 1921 for then-Crown Prince Hirohito during a royal visit to Okinawa. After World War II, when U.S. forces occupied Okinawa, American soldiers began training in Karate methods, and Karate is now practiced by 50 million people around the globe.


Incorporating special breathing and shouts, Karate is as much about self-discipline as it is about power. Karate stresses striking as opposed to grappling or throwing an opponent. Fighters direct focused strikes with the hands, elbows, knees or feet towards the most vulnerable areas of the opponent’s body, including the face, neck, spinal column, groin and kidneys. A geri, or kick, is a focused blow with the leg delivered either low, to bring the opponent to his knees, or high, to cause injury to the head. In competitive karate, fighters are only allowed to hit above the waist, and all blows are pulled; in a traditional fight, any of the blows can be fatal.


Zenshotokai is a mixed martial art style that incorporates many of the styles introduced by Master Virgil Kimmey. The form balances kicking, striking and joint locking techniques to provide an effective self defense training. Weapons training is required from advanced students. The "Zen" in Zenshotaki reflects the importance of mind. Belief in ability and confidence in training results in practicianers capable of performing at committed level. The Zenshotokai style improves confidence and control.