Karate's roots go back to the Shao Lin and other ancient fighting arts of China, where physical training methods were used to build the endurance and strength required to carry out the rigid discipline of the religion. These arts eventually spread to Okinawa.
Master Gichin Funakoshi is widely considered the primary "father" of modern karate due to his efforts to introduce the Okinawan art to mainland Japan, from where it spread to the rest of the world. Born in 1868, he began to study karate at the age of 11, and was a student of the two greatest masters of the time, Azato and Itosu. He grew proficient and was initiated into all the major styles of karate in Okinawa at the time. For Master Funakoshi, karate eventually took on a deeper and broader meaning, becoming karate-do, literally the "way of karate," or of the empty hand. Training in karate-do became an education for life itself.
In 1916 he gave a demonstration to the Butokuden in Kyoto, Japan, which at that time was the official center of all martial arts. On March 6, 1921, the Crown Prince, who was later to become the Emperor of Japan, visited Okinawa and Master Funakoshi was asked to demonstrate karate. In the early spring of 1922 Master Funakoshi traveled to Tokyo to present his art at the First National Athletic Exhibition in Tokyo organized by the Ministry of Education.
Master Funakoshi remained in Japan thereafter, and in 1936, he established the first Shotokan dojo in Japan so named because Shoto was his pen name at Zoshigaya, Tokyo. In 1948, the Japan Karate Association was organized, with Funakoshi as the chief instructor. Organization made it possible for leading karate-ka practitioners of karate to pool their knowledge and ability, from that time onward progress was rapid, leading to development of the three aspects of present-day karate -- self-defense, sport, and physical/mental art.
In April of 1957, Master Funakoshi passed away at the age of eighty-eight. Many karate-ka who learned under him remain, ensuring that the art he taught would not die with him. The Chief Instructor of ISKF, Master Teruyuki Okazaki was a student of Master Funakoshi.