Karate -- Where did it really originate from?
Have you wondered how far back in history you can go to trace the origins of karate? Some historians believe that karate can be traced back to Alexander the Great’s time and further.
In the Greek Olympic Games of 648 B.C. a sport called “pankration” was introduced. It was an “empty-hand” submission sport with few rules. Athletes used boxing and wrestling techniques, including kicking, holds, joint-locks and chokes on the ground. A rough translation of the term pankration means “strength, might and power”.
The sport satisfied a need for a sporting and combative form that boxing and wrestling did not provide. There is evidence that, although events could end in knock-outs, most pankration contests were decided on the basis of submission.
Alexander the Great’s invasion of India in 327 B.C. helped introduce pankration into India. There it was picked up by the missionaries spreading Buddhism throughout India, Tibet, Burma and China. The missionaries realized that this new combative form gave them the means to protect themselves on their travels without any weapons .
As Buddhism spread from India into China, other groups grasped the essence of the “empty hand” and modified the form to suit their needs.
Karate spread through China, eventually reaching Okinawa in the Ryukyu Island chain.