Butokukan History
( for Yellow Belt Test )
Butokukan Karate has a long history going back to the early 1400s in Okinawa ( a large chain of islands south-west of Japan ).  Karate came through Sakagawa and "Bushi" Matsumura, who learned from Chinese teachings, traveling to China as guards under the Okinawan king. Later on many masters taught "Tote" or "China Hand".  Our stream of karate came from Yatasune "Anko" ( nickname meaning "horse") Itosu.  The style was then called Itosu-ryu.

Around 1920, Master Kenwa Mabuni ( another Okinawan master who was a student of Itosu ) went to Japan in 1929 and taught in the city of Osaka.  Other Masters had already arrived in Japan, and were teaching in Japan, among them: Gichin Funakoshi, Sannosuke Uegina, Yasyoshi Konshi, and others.

In 1936, a group of masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, had a conference and decided to make karate more Japanese ( up to then it was more Chinese ). The Kanji charactors were changed, so the translation now meant "empty hand." Empty hand is largely considered to mean without a weapon, but it also means the emptiness of mind that a karate-ka ( student of karate ) exercises when doing karate. A clear mind can react without distraction and without thinking about what to do. That is why training in karate is important, as training repeatedly in techniques impresses it into the "body-memory" of a person, so when danger arises, the body can quickly choose how to defend itself without having to go through a conscious thinking of how to do it.

In 1945 the military government under General McArthur outlawed all Japanese martial arts in Japan, so karate was practiced in secret ( karate was a relatively new martial art in Japan proper, so remained somewhat unnoticed as compared to Jui-Jitsu, Kendo and some of the other older Japanese martial arts ).  Master Yun Pun Gun, who was a Korean student of and Master under Kenwa Mabuni ( who was teaching in Osaka ), began teaching a style called Shinpu-ren in secret, and in doing business had travelled around Japan with other Koreans, stopping at one fishing village regularly, called Kushimoto.  Here he taught Yoichi Nakachi Shinpu-ren, and other students.  In 1948, when the ban on Japanese martial arts was lifted, the open practice of Shinpu-ren resumed.

In 1950 Yun Pun Gun left to go back to Korea, leaving Yoichi Nakachi in charge of the style.  In 1959 Sensei Nakachi came to the United States on a philosophy scholarship.  Sensei Nakachi started taking classes at the University of Washington, moving to Olympic College in 1961, where he started teaching Master Robert Hill.  In 1963, Master Nakachi changed the name of the style from Shinpu-ren to Butokukan, reflecting the more fluid style of Kempo karate.  The katas were changed, as well as the crest.  The name Butokukan was taken from the Butoku-kai Military Arts College, and means training hall of the virtues of the martial arts.

In 1965, Master Nakachi had to return to Japan because his visa only allowed him in America as a student. He handed over Butokukan to Sensei Robert Hill, promoting him to Nidan, or 2nd degree black belt. Since then Master Hill has improved the quality of Butokukan by incorporating different techniques and elements from Wing Chun Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Judo and other arts. One of his sayings is that "there's nothing magical about karate, it's just hard work.

The motto for Butokukan is "Confidence Through Knowledge."