Gichin Funakoshi, known as the founder of modern karate, was a professor at the Okinawan Teacher’s College and President of the Okinawan Association of Martial Arts. In 1922, he was invited to lecture and demonstrate the new art of karate at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo.
The demonstration turned out to be a great success, due to the inspiring personality of Master Funakoshi, and he was flooded with requests until he was able to establish the Shotokan in 1936, a great landmark in the history of karate. Funakoshi Sensei was not only a genius in martial arts but also a literary talent and signed his work “Shoto,” his pen name.
Hence, the school where he taught came to be known as Shoto’s School or Shotokan. He combined the techniques and katas of the two major Okinawan styles to form his own style of karate. As a result, modern day Shotokan includes the powerful techniques of the Shorei school and the lighter, more flexible movements of the Shorin school.
When the Japan Karate Association was established in 1949, Gichin Funakoshi was appointed as the chief instructor due to his advanced skills and leadership abilities. Although Funakoshi Sensei was famous as a great karate master, he always emphasized that the most important benefit from karate training is the development of spiritual values and the perfection of character of its participants.
After training and teaching karate for more than 75 years, Master Funakoshi died in 1957 at the age of 88 years old.
Kenneth Funakoshi, founder and chief instructor of the Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association started judo training in 1948 under Arakaki Sensei at the Fort Gakuen Japanese Language School in Honolulu, Hawaii.
He attended Farrington High School in the Kalihi District and was on the football team and captain of the Territory of Hawaii (Hawaii was not a state yet) Championship swimming team.
While attending the University of Hawaii on a swimming scholarship Funakoshi Sensei started kenpo training under Adriano Emperado during 1956 to 1959.
In 1960, Funakoshi started shotokan training when the Japan Karate Association assigned its first grand champion, Hirokazu Kanazawa to teach at the Karate Association of Hawaii for three years.
For the next three years, Funakoshi trained under Masataka Mori, another senior instructor from the Japanese Karate Association. From 1966 to 1969, he trained under the third and last instructor sent by the J.K.A., the legendary Tetsuhiko Asai, another former grand champion from Japan.
In 1969, after training 10 years under three of Japan’s top instructors and grand champion of the Karate Association for five years in a row (1964-1968), Kenneth Funakoshi was appointed as the Chief Instructor for the Karate Association of Hawaii.
Funakoshi Sensei moved to San Jose, California to teach karate in December 1986. In 1987, the non-political Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association was founded with its headquarters in San Jose, and affiliates throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and South America.