The Birthplace of Karate


Ryukyu Kingdom

The hometown of Karate is the Ryukyu Kingdom (present-day Okinawa Prefecture, Japan).
The Ryukyu Islands are located southwest of the Japanese archipelago, between Kyushu and Taiwan. These islands were The kingdom ruled by the Ryukyu royal family.

Castle of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This castle was recently destroyed by fire.

The Ryukyu Kingdom has a long history, but it is the second Sho dynasty, established in 1462, that has an important meening with the birth of Karate. The Ryukyu Kingdom was at the mercy of two great powers across the sea, China and Japan. At first, the Ryukyu Kingdom was a vassal state of China. But in 1609, the kingdom came under Satsuma’s control when it was attacked by Satsuma’s Samurai. Despite being under the rule of two great powers, the Ryukyu king maintained its independence through skillful diplomacy and trade, creating a prosperous nation that fused the three cultures of Ryukyu, Japan, and China.

36 families from Min

It is widely believed that the prototype of modern Karate was born in the latter half of the 14th century. Before that, of course, the kingdom’s warriors and traders’ guards would have used weapons and martial arts. However, there are no documents that describe what the Ryukyuan martial arts were like before the 14th century.

There is a monument in Kume Village where 36 families emigrated.

In the 14th century, 36 families were dispatched from the Ming (now China) to Kumemura, the Ryukyu Kingdom. At this time, Karate as a unique individuality was born from the general martial arts of soldiers around the world.

They were people with advanced technology from China, and emigrated to Ryukyu on the orders of the king. They did various jobs in the Ryukyu Kingdom, such as trading and assisting in the management of the kingdom. They also played an important role in education and training of soldiers. Among the training was Chinese martial arts, which was one of the latest technologies at the time.

Ryukyuan warriors mixed their mastery of Chinese martial arts with the ancient “Tee". “Tee" was original Ryukyuan martial arts. After many years of polishing, they gave birth to the prototype of Karate.


Posted by Japan-budo