Various styles of self defense based on unarmed combat have been studied for centuries in the Far East. They were said to have originated in times of rebellion when the feudal overlords forbade the carrying of weapons. Several of these martial arts were adopted and extensively developed by the monks who wished to be able to defend themselves without weapons or armour. Shotokan Karate-Do, the Way of the Empty Hand, was created by Gichin Funakoshi in the early part of this century from the combination of older open-hand fighting techniques practiced in Okinawa, an island off the coast of Japan. Master Funakoshi, a school teacher and poet, brought together the best elements of these techniques and added training methods that emphasized the balance of kata (training forms), kumite (sparring) and kihon (basics). Shotokan, a word now used to refer to this method of training, was Master Funakoshi´s pen-name.
Master Funakoshi was also responsible for the popularization of karate throughout the whole of Japan beginning with a demonstration tour in 1922. The study of karate spread rapidly during the succeeding decades, especially through the establishment of karate clubs at many of Japanese universities. Writers on the history of karate credit the popularity of the new technique among the "intellectually inclined" with many of the scientifically sound refinements of Master Funakoshi methods. Modern Shotokan karate techniques are based on a linear fighting style that emphasizes speed and power. Equally important in the study of karate is the development of the student´s character: through the discipline of hard work, the drive for technical excellence and the practice of humility and respect for others.