The origins of Far Eastern martial arts
It’s not possible to reconstruct accurately the origins of Far Eastern martial arts. Although important influences came from India and even out of the Mediterranean area, China is definitely the cradle of Far Eastern martial arts. The best known theory about the beginnings of martial arts goes back to an Indian monk, Bodhidharma, who introduced Zen-Buddhism in China (between 520 and 530 AD) and joined the famous Shaolin Cloister in North China.
Here, he broke new ground with his fellow monks, combining Zen (seated meditation) with physical exercises and breathing techniques to strengthen the bodies and minds of his students.
Soon, these exercises were combined with indiginous and Indian combat methods. This was the birth of the Chinese martial art Ch'uan-Fa (Kung-Fu, Japanese: Kempo), which spread and split into various styles.
The development of Karate-Do came over the island of Okinawa to Japan.
Okinawa was ruled by Japanese Lords. Due to its geographical position, between the main Japanese island and the Chinese mainland, Okinawa had stood under the influence of Chinese culture for centuries.
The Chinese Ch'uan-Fa merged with the well known Okinawa combat techniques to become To-De (later known as Okinawa-Te).