Master Gichin Funakoshi had the most important influence in the development of Karate as we know it. He was born November 10, 1868, and began to study Karate at the age of eleven. He was a devout student of the two greatest Masters of the time, Itosu and Azato (see "The Heritage of SKA").
Master Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce Karate-do to mainland Japan. His method became known as Shotokan, literally "the clan or the house of Shoto", which was the Master's pen name.
His book, entitled Karate-do Kyohan, was the first complete book ever written about Karate. All students in Shotokan Karate of America classes are required to read this text.
As a result of his pioneering efforts and his greatness in Karate, Master Funakoshi is today recognized as the Father of Modern Karate.
In 1955, two years before Master Funakoshi died on April 26, 1957, one of the last and most gifted of his students left Japan to teach Karate in the United States. His name is Mr. Tsutomu Ohshima, now the Shihan (chief instructor) of Shotokan Karate of America. Mr. Ohshima translated the Karate-do Kyohan master text to English.
Shotokan Karate of America (SKA) is a nonprofit karate organization, founded in 1955 and still headed by Tsutomu Ohshima, who is also recognized as the chief instructor of many other national Shotokan organizations worldwide. SKA maintains its national headquarters in Los Angeles. Please see the official SKA website for more information.The Caltech Karate Club is famous for its direct lineage to Master Funakoshi, the father of modern Karate. Founded in 1957 by Tsutomu Ohshima (one of Master Funakoshi's prize pupils), the Caltech Karate Club is the oldest university Karate club in the United States. Until his retirement in May 1994 we were very fortunate to train directly under Mr. Ohshima (see picture). Mr. Ohshima was awarded the Caltech ASCIT Teaching Award in 1994. This award is presented annually to several instructors who "the students feel have shown exceptional enthusiasm, dedication and clarity of teaching, as well as genuine interest in students". On Friday, January 20th 1995, Mr. Ohshima was given a life time achievement award before the city council in downtown Los Angeles. The award was signed by then-mayor Richard Riordan and all members of the city council. The document listed Mr. Ohshima's accomplishments since his arrival in LA in 1955. In his acceptance speech Mr. Ohshima thanked the people of Los Angeles and wished good fortune for all who were present.