The Place

Okinawa, the main island in the Ryuku kingdom, was a vital stop for ships traveling between the great powers of Japan and China for over a thousand years. Karate (which means "empty hand") was developed by the Okinawans as a blend of Japanese (like samurai and jiu jitsu) and Chinese (often associated with Shaolin "kung fu") arts along with a local wrestling and boxing style known as Okinawa Te.

The Ryuku kingdom was under the control of the Japanese and Chinese at various times in its history until the final takeover by the Japanese in the late 1800s. When it was independent, its emperor lived in Shuri, Okinawa.