Karate-Do can trace its roots to the Shaolin Temple in China around 520-535 A.D. Monks were not allowed to have weapons. Therefore they developed a form of self-defense from the study of animals, which allowed them to defend themselves against local bandits and also allowed them to expand their physical and spiritual training.
From these beginnings the form grew and spread through China, Okinawa, and was eventually introduced to Japan in 1922 by the founder of modern Karate-Do-Master Gichin Funakoshi. Born in Okinawa in 1868, he died at the age of 89 in 1957.
Master Funakoshi chose the character "Kara" (meaning empty hand) and "Te" (hand) for its Zen Buddhist philosophy of rendering oneself empty of selfish or evil thoughts for only with a clear mind and conscience; free also from emotions of fear or anxiety so the Karate students understand what they receive. To the master, Karate-Do is not only a martial art, but also a way of building character.