In all kinds of books and of course also on the internet you can find a lot about the history of karate. It has many movements and even more grandmasters. There are also several meanings of the word “karate”. I have tried to filter all of this and make it a clearly coherent whole. please note, the history of karate goes back very far and many stories were initially only told orally. The correctness of some anecdotes and traditions can only be guessed…

History of karate in general
Karate is a Japanese martial art, but the origin of karate is not, as many think, in Japan but originated in the north of China, in the province Henan. According to the legends, such was alive 1500 years ago an Indian monk named Bodhidharma Taichi or in short Daruma Taichi (Ta Mo in Chinese), the one in the monastery of Shaolin-Zsu the Buddhist teachings Dhyana (later Zen mentioned) taught. His teaching and discipline, however, were so strict, that many of his students lost consciousness. Daruma therefore put together a kind of physiological technique, who was to strengthen his disciples physically and mentally and protect them on their travels. This technique was called Ekikinyo and consisted of a series of exercises combined with martial arts to promote the physical constitution. It Ekikinyo, better known as Shorin Kempo, (Shorin is the Japanese word for Shaolin) is the basis of many Eastern martial arts.
However, no evidence has ever been found that this Bodhidharma really lived. Perhaps in the legends he symbolizes several persons who contributed to the development of this during that period Kempo. A more profane explanation is that many Chinese monasteries were in remote areas and were often targeted by itinerant gangs of robbers. To be able to fight against these robbers, the monks began to use defense techniques that matched their teachings: a defensive art that did not require the use of weapons. These monks later became China's greatest fighters and the style they practiced Shaolin-Zsu-tempelboks of Kempo mentioned. The most famous martial art derived from this is the current one Shaolin Kung Fu.
Since China and the island of Okinawa (that today belongs to Japan) traditionally related, mainly through merchants and sailors from the Chinese province of Fujian, it didn't take long before this self-defense art was also practiced in Okinawa. It was initially combined with a local martial art and was given the name Okinawa-Te. In the 15th century, a king came to power, Hashi of the Okinawa Sho-dynasty, which forbade all weaponry. Thus unarmed combat gained momentum. Three major currents arose in Okinawa, all named after the cities where they were developed: Shuri-te, Naha-te in Tomari-te.

Karate in Kanji

From the Shuri-Te became later (18th century) it To-Te of Kara-Te formed, where both To when Kara two ways of reading a Chinese script (see right) are those the Chinese Tang-dynasty (618-907) symbolizes (so initially people also read Tang-Te). Later (from 1937) this sign was changed, but people still read ‘Kara’, what in it Japanese Means "empty".
But Okinawa wasn't always Japanese and had its own own language. The old (Okinawaanse) meaning of 'To' was like in Chinese "technique" or "art". So it meant old ‘Kara-te’ as much as ‘Tang Art’ . The current meaning of KARATE, however is "empty hand", want 'To' Actually means "hand" in Japanese language and has the same icon (kanji): hand. That is also the meaning that most karate books and websites give to it, but whole (historical) it is therefore not correct…

 However, this meaning is not yet 100 years old, because it lasted until about 1920 before a resident of Okinawa publicly demonstrated this art of defense in Japan. His name was Gichin Funakoshi, born in 1868 in Shuri, Okinawa. The first Karate dojo in Japan was called “Shoto Kan”, after a pseudonym used by Gichin Funakoshi: Shoto, which means as much as "pine noise" (as a young man he liked to walk to a temple surrounded by many pine trees. The murmur of the wind through these trees gave him the inner peace he needed for Karate training).

Karate quickly became popular in Japan and in 1948 became the Japan Karate Association (JKA) founded with Gichin Funakoshi at its head. Then Master Gichin in April 1957 died, his art already had thousands of followers, that caused Karate to spread all over the world. Gichin Funakoshi may therefore be considered the father of modern Karate.

Another great master of karate, was one of the teachers Gichin Funakoshi has had: Yasutsune Itosu, better known as Anko Itosu (born 1830, 31 of 32, died 1915). He in turn had been a student of Sokon Matsumura (1809-1898), a grandmaster who combined the three great schools of Okinawa and the Shaolin of Shorin-Ryu called, to the origin of karate: de Shaolin-tempel. This one Anko Itosu (picture on the right) is also often regarded as the father of modern karate. But, whoever the "father’ may be, they were all people we should remember with great respect…

Of course karate has had more influences than just from China. Initially, Chinese art was combined with the original fighting art of Okinawa. Furthermore, many contemporary Japanese traditions and customs stem from the deep-rooted history of Japan. For example, the Samurai, the famous and feared Japanese warriors who emerged in the 12th century and ruled the Japanese islands for centuries, put a firm stamp on contemporary Japanese culture and therefore automatically on karate. Not so very directly on the techniques (of jujutsu-techniques of the Samurai have had more influence on Aikido, Hapkido in Judo), but more on Japanese etiquette, use, rites and traditions and the "general" character of the Japanese. For example, discipline stood, honor and respect are of paramount importance to the Samurai and can no longer be ignored in Japanese culture today.

History of Genseiryu karate
The founder of the style Genseiryu is Seiken Shukumine (1925-2001). The roots of it Genseiryu Karate lie in a style of it Okinawa-Karate Which Shuri-Te hot. This style was combined with the two other major styles throughout Sokon “Bushi” Matsumura (1809-1898) until Shorin-Ryu. As a master (Sensei) he had famous pupils like Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan, see above), Yasutsune (Anko) Itosu, Chotoku Kyan en Yasutsune Asato. One of the lesser known students was Bushi Takemura. He developed a version of the Kushanku Kata which today in it Genseiryu is still being practiced. Was one of Takemura's students Soko Kishimoto (1866-1945).

One of Soko Kishimoto's students was the in 1925 in Naha-shi (on the Japanese island of Okinawa) born Seiken Shukumine. Shukumine had no family who could teach him karate. When he 8 years old he was taught by Anko Sadoyama, a master at it Koryu Karate. The training always started with 50 leaps over a fast-growing shrub. A somewhat romanticized anecdote tells that when Shukumine went for a walk one day, he was surprised by a snake that wanted to bite him. As with his jumps over the bush, he also now jumped over the snake. The snake was killed by Soko Kishimoto (1866-1945), who had seen this incident. A nice anecdote, but most likely made up. From the age of 14 he became Kishimoto's apprentice, and remained so until his death. Another story going around is that when Shukumine was introduced to Kishimoto, the latter asked Shukumine to stand at the door. Kishimoto suddenly picked up a poker, who stuck into the burning fireplace and threw a glowing piece of charcoal towards Shukumine with full force. He managed to avoid it in a quick reaction and the charcoal clattered against the door. Then Kishimoto decided to take him as one of his last students. This is probably also a made-up story, because in reality (has emerged from reports of former students) Shukumine had to insist a long time before Kishomoto finally showed his willingness to teach him. It also seems that Kishimoto has only nine in his life kohai (= students) and his last two were Shukumine in Seitoku Higa. Soko Kishimoto stierf in 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa.

During World War II, Shukumine was drafted into military service at the age of 18. He was posted to the navy division Japanese Kamikaze Corps. Here he was trained to Kaiten-pilot (éénmans-torpedo). Shukumine developed a special technique and strategy to deal with the knowledge that it might also be used in war. He tried to think of a way to convert his karate techniques into a method of converting the Kaiten avoid torpedoes.

He survived the war, but his master was killed and Okinawa bombed. For these reasons, he retired to a deserted island and began to develop his own karate style. With in mind his background as Kaiten-pilot, he developed new techniques. This in combination with the classical techniques formed an improved version of the Okinawa-te that he had learned from Sadoyama and Kishimoto.

Shukumine demonstrated in 1949 for the first time are Karate to the public in the city of Ito in Japan in October 1950 he took part in a Karate exposition, organized by Nippon TV. He did this together with other big names like Ryusho Sakagami (Itosu-kai), Hidetaka Nishiyama (JKA), Yasuhiro Konishi (Ryobu-kai), H. Kenya (Kenshu-kai), Kanki Izumikawa en Shikan Akamine (Goju-ryu). Shukumine demonstrated, among other things. of Kata Kushanku Dai, Tameshiwari (= breaking technique, in this case, striking out 34 roof tiles with shuto shuto) in Hachidan-tobi-geri (jumping stairs with 8 "Kicks" in one jump).

In 1953 Shukumine instructed the troops at Tachikawa military base. His Karate quickly spread throughout the rest of Japan and he named the style Genseiryu (玄制流). In Japanese, the name consists of three characters (Kanji). The first is Gen (mysterious) and has multiple meanings, like "mysterious", 'universe’ but also "an astute and deep truth". The second character is Be (system) and can be translated into "control", 'system', ‘wet’ or "rule", but also in "creating (a) form'. The last sign is Ryu (flow) which is simply "style’ of ‘school’ means. The combination Gensei (Mysticism) could be translated into "control of the universe", but reading Japanese Kanji is not that simple. In this combination, the meaning becomes more like "the pursuit of the deep truth and its clarification through the form". This must be seen on a physical as well as a spiritual level.
Sometimes it is also spoken of Genseikan, at which can (Pavilion) again means as much as "school", but more in the sense of the place where it takes place (building). In 1955 became Genseiryu officially recognized. Shukumine was born at the age of 31 (in 1956) the highest degree in karate, of 8th dan (in Kyoshi).

Shukumine published in 1964 the book “Shin Karatedo Kyohan”, detailing the techniques and tactics of it Genseiryu Karate describes. In 1962 he introduces a further development of it Genseiryu Karate that he Taido calls, a very acrobatic looking Budo-discipline. This is a new Eastern martial art, that has its roots in it Genseiryu Karate has, but is not seen as karate. He also wrote a book about this martial art, namely “Taido gairon” (1988), in which he describes the basic principles and techniques of Taido. In addition to Taido, however, sensei Shukumine also remained involved Genseiryu and was the head of the World until his death Genseiryu Organization.


Only started in the 1960s Genseiryu spread outside Japan, to the USA, Europe, South America and Africa. On 26 november 2001 Shukumine died, after being ill for a long time, from cardiac arrest. He became 75 years old. From 16 november 2003 it was decided to move within it Genseiryu, the book published by Shukumine worldwide “Shin Karatedo Kyohan” to use as a guide for it Genseiryu. It also contains the the word described that we practice, o.a. Ten-i no, Chi-i no, Jin-i no, Naihanchi in Sansai no Kata. This international agreement was signed by representatives of Genseiryu from all over the world covered by the World / European Genseiryu Karatedo Federation (WGKF). The Japanese branch is also in this federation, Genseiryu Karatedo Honbu Dojo (at which Honbu Dojo translates as “Headquarters”). This Japanese organization is a member of Nippon Karatedo Rengoukai. The latter is a member of the Japan Karatedo Federation (JKF) and with that is the Japanese Genseiryu Karatedo Honbu Dojo automatically also a member of the JKF. The President of Japanese Genseiryu Karatedo Honbu Dojo is also the president of the WGKF, sensei Yasunori Kanai. He has also been appointed the lead instructor Wereld Genseiryu. Daarvoor waren dat sensei Yamada en sensei Saito. They are all appointed by sensei Shukumine to be in charge of the Wereld Genseiryu to take on, sensei Shukumine himself from that 1962 most of the time was put in Taido and rather relinquished this task. The said WGKF agreement has also been signed by sensei Nobuaki Konno, the founder and representative of Genseiryu Nederland and also Director-General of the WGKF. A copy of this ‘agreement’ state right here.


A number of schools have decided to join not abide by this international convention and replace the beginner's data with those from the Shotokan (of Heians), because this is more interesting (read: competatiever) is for competitions. In a text by the founder himself, sensei Shukumine, one can read that the Ten-i no, Chi-i no in Jin-i no kata Bee Genseiryu and it is of course strange that people claim it Genseiryu to train this specific base data. With this they separate themselves from the real Genseiryu and thus form a "style grouping’ (a split off) which is the addition ‘Butokukai’ should use. Their umbrella organization is the Nippon Karatedo Butokukai, Founded in 1962. Nowadays they also call themselves, more "international’ sounding, of Genseiryu (Butokukai) Karatedo International Federation. This organization is since 1971 directed by sensei Tosa, a former student of sensei Shukumine. Unfortunately they got into a disagreement about the future of it Genseiryu Karate, especially about the katas, which got so out of hand that Tosa eventually turned his back on Shukumine and went his own way. Tosa also wrote a book about it Genseiryu Karate, “Genseiryu Karatedo Kyohan 2”, in which Shukumine wrote another foreword, probably even before they got into an argument. Tosa has still used these words, most likely to make his book more sales powerful. The style Butokukai is quite large in Japan itself, but there Outside not.

Other styles derived from Genseiryu are a.o.: Genwakai, Keneikai, Ryounkai, Seidokai in Butokukai.

Many karate styles have now been developed. Some other styles not directly related Genseiryu have to do: Shotokan, Wado-Ryu, Kyokushinkai, Shito-Ryu, Goju-Ryu.