History of WKF and Karate

The World Karate Federation was formed in 1990 from former WUKO (World Union of Karate Organisations) members and is the largest international governing body of sport karate with over 130 member countries. It is the only karate organisation recognised by the International Olympic Committee and has more than ten million members. The WKF organises Junior and Senior World Championships which are each held every other year.
New Zealand is an active participant in WKF local, regional and international competitions through Karate NZ, the only body entitled to grant official NZ representation.
The advent of World Karate Federation competition has seen technical standards in terms of dynamic execution and athleticism increase dramatically in recent years and beyond the level even the early masters would have imagined. This evolution is continuing.

History of Karate

The factual historical roots of karate are, at best, murky with various interpretations made to suit individual styles. What is generally accepted is that the art migrated from China to Okinawa in the 1700’s. Three main styles evolved, Shorin-te (Shorin-ryu), Naha-te (Shorei-ryu) and Tomari-te. These in turn developed into the four main styles that are accepted by the official controlling body, World Karate Federation. They are (ref: http://www.karatebc.org/history/):

Shotokan was founded by Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) in Tokyo in 1938. Funakoshi is considered to be the founder of modern karate. Born in Okinawa, he began to study karate with Yasutsune Azato, one of Okinawa’s greatest experts in the art. In 1921 Funakoshi first introduced Karate to Tokyo. In 1936, at nearly 70 years of age, he opened his own training hall. The dojo was called Shotokan after the pen name used by Funakoshi to sign poems written in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterised by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.

Wado-ryu, ‘way of harmony’, founded in 1939 is a system of karate developed from jujitsu and karate by Hienori Otsuka as taught by one of his instructors, Gichin Funakoshi. This style of karate combines basic movements of jujitsu with techniques of evasion, putting a strong emphasis on softness and the way of harmony or spiritual discipline.

Goju-ryu developed out of Naha-te, its popularity primarily due to the success of Kanryo Higaonna (1853-1915). Higaonna opened a dojo in Naha using eight forms brought from China. His best student, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) later founded
Goju-ryu, ‘hard soft way’ in 1930. In Goju-ryu much emphasis is placed on combining soft circular blocking techniques with quick strong counter attacks delivered in rapid succession.

Shito-ryu was founded by Kenwa Mabuni (1889-1952) in 1928 and was influenced directly by both Naha-te and Shuri-te. The name Shito is constructively derived from the combination of the Japanese characters of Mabuni’s teachers’ names – Ankoh Itosu and Kanryo Higaonna. Shito-ryu schools use a large number of kata and is characterised by an emphasis on power in the execution of techniques.

Wellington Karate Academy practices mainly Shotokan traditional karate but with strong influences from the other three styles.

The diagram below traces Kei Shin Kan back to Kanken Toyama who founded the All Japan Karate Association, via Master Takazawa who passed away in 2010. Wellington Karate Academy instructors were members of Kei Shin Kan until 2005.