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Gigō Funakoshi (船越義豪 Funakoshi Gigō, Funakoshi Yoshitaka in Japanese ?) (1906—1945) was the third son of Gichin Funakoshi (船越 義珍) (the founder of Shōtōkan 松濤館流 karate) and is widely credited with developing the modern karate style.

Even though he died young—before becoming 40 (spring 1945)—Gigō Funakoshi (or Yoshitaka in Japanese) had a far-reaching effect on modern karate.

Whereas his father was responsible for transforming karate from a mere fighting technique to a philosophical martial do (way of life), Gigō was in charge of developing, backed up by his father and helped by other important martial artists, a karate technique that definitively separated Japanese Karate-do from the local Okinawan art, giving it a completely different and at the same time notoriously Japanese flavor.

Changes in style

More so than his father, Gigō was the technical creator of modern karate. Where the ancient art of To-de, emphasized the use and development of the upper extremities, Gigō developed new leg techniques, mawashi geri, yoko geri kekomi, yoko geri keage, fumikomi, ura mawashi geri (some credit Kase-sensei with the creation of this technique) and ushiro geri. All these became part of the already large arsenal of the ancient Okinawan style. The leg techniques were performed with a much higher knee-lift than in previous styles, and the use of the hips emphasized. Other technical developments were the turning of the torso to a half-facing position (hanmi) when blocking, and thrusting the rear leg and hips when performing the techniques, the idea being to deliver the attack with the whole of the body.

Gigō insisted on using low stances and long attacks, chained techniques, something that immediately separated it from Okinawan karate. He also emphasized the oi tsuki and gyaku tsuki. The training sessions were very exhausting—during these, Gigo expected his students to give twice as much the energy they would put in a real confrontation, thus they would be sure to be prepared for the actual situation if it were ever to arise.

See also

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