History of Karate

 (Korean version)


     There are various origins and history written by different writers, authors or researchers regarding the history and origin of karate from the very beginning. Their opinions differ from one another depending upon the information and materials that they have gathered. Though they differ in other aspects, still they all agree on one particular man who was believed to be the very person responsible in spreading the martial arts techniques. This man is no other than Budhidharma or daruma, an Indian monk who established the shaolin monastery in the outskirts of china, directly opposite Taiwan.


     The oriental martial arts that we know now are only incidental to religion. Budhidharma, who was teaching the religion Buddhism in the shaolin monastery, included martial arts strategies as physical training to quench the monotony of meditation philosophy which was the object of Buddhism. Therefore, it is written in the pages or martial arts history that the monks in the shaolin monastery were practitioners of meditation philosophy or Zen Buddhism and military strategies.


     During the reign or emperor shent-su of china, there was a Tibetan revolt which caused chaos, pillage and great disorders in china.


     The emperor therefore issued a public proclamation to reward any person, group of persons or mercenaries who can suppress the rebellion. In answer to this proclamation, there were one hundred and twenty eight (128) monks headed by Cheng-chu-ta, who presented themselves to the emperor to suppress the rebellion. They campaigned for three (3) months and in their last days of campaign they were surprised and surrounded by the whole Tibetan revolutionary army. Because of the highly technical knowledge of the monks in the field of martial art, they were able to counter attack and had accomplished the following: 1) defeated the whole revolutionary army 2) killed the general 3) captured their banner 4) made them pay their usual tribute to the emperor and 5) made them sign a treaty they never dishonored.


      In this three months of campaign they never lost a single man or broken an arrow. The emperor asked them to name their reward and it shall be given.


     Chang-chun-ta accepted the position as the commander of the imperial guards while the rest of the monks told the emperor that they do not want any reward. Instead they requested that they be allowed to go back to the shaolin monastery to spend the rest of their days in leisure and meditations.


     So there was peace, progress and tranquility in china.


     However, there came again intrigue and treachery in the palace when two conspirators. Wen Yao and Chen –Chu, wanted to seize the empire for themselves.


     These two conspirators, being fearful of the monks and knowing that the loyalty of the monks was to the emperor, could not attain their insidious desires. Therefore, they deemed it wise to eliminate the monks first. They used intrigues to discredit the monks before the emperor. They told the emperor, “ the monks are able fighters; they have defeated the whole Tibetan revolt so easily. If they were to turn against the empire, they can defeat the empire twice easily”. Since the emperor was not aware of their malicious and treacherous desires, he consented that the monks be eliminated.


     Being aware of the futile efforts the monks in the field of open combat, wen yao and chen-chiu engaged the services of maifu, a renegade monk who was ousted from monastery for immortality, to guide and show them the avenues approach and exits of the monastery so that they could use gunpowder to eliminate the monks. There was explosion and chaos in the monastery followed by the mass and mopping massacre of the monks. Eighteen (18) monks were able to escape. They were pursued and cornered with their backs against a cliff but they stood their ground and fought the 60000 strong imperial troops. The battle was recorded as the most ferocious in the annals of combat history. The remnants of the weary, wounded and disabled imperial troops retreated and asked for reinforcements, leaving 5 monks, 2 of whom were mortally wounded. The battle was so ferocious that after the mortal combat, “when you walk, your feet do not touch the ground”.


       The 5 remaining monks were again pursued by the imperial troops until they sought sanctuary in a village, which took pity on them. The 2 mortally wounded monks died due to lack of medical care.


       To avenge the death of his fellow monks, the youngest among the three remaining monks challenged Maifu in a mortal combat. They fought for two nights and two days using BO (lance) to bare hands without respite. The young monk, named Kung-Sung-Lo came out victorious. Killing Maifu, thus avenging the death of all the monks in the monastery.


       The news of this famous mortal combat reached the ears of the pursuing troops. They immediately surrounded the village. Thanks to the quick thinking of the village elders who hid the monks and made five graves and presented them to the imperial troops as the graves of the five monks in question. The two mortally wounded monks, who died earlier, occupied two of the graves. While the 3 were empty. The general of the imperial guards ordered the excavation of the graves. After the first two graves had been excavated, the general ordered that the excavation be stopped due to the foul odor of the decomposing bodies. The imperial troops left satisfied without knowing that the three remaining graves were empty.


       When Chang-chun-ta knew the treacherous massacre of the monks, he killed Wen Yao and Chen-Chiu, after which he committed a complete demise of himself.


       It was believed that the 3 remaining monks were responsible for spreading the martial arts in china. The Koreans contended that one of the monks went to the south of china and the other to the Korea. They further claimed strongly that the martial arts from china first went to Korea before it reached Okinawa of Japan because of the geographical location. 


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