Two Japanese words are used for the name; "Taisho" meaning the "Team Leader" or "Captain" of a competition karate team, and "Do" meaning "Path" or "Way". This indicates that the Taisho-Do Karate group have two main points of focus, competition karate and traditional karate training.
Karate means "empty hand", and is a generic term for a range of striking/unarmed fighting systems based on ancient Japanese/Okinawan arts.
"Te" (hand) had been used by the Japanese for centuries to indicate a martial art based striking and kicking skills. Before "Kara-Te" was created as a general term, Japanese fighting systems were named after the location of the school, for example, Shuri-te was practiced in the city of Shuri.
In an attempt to popularise and spread the various skills within the many Te arts, a number of Japanese masters collaborated in the late 1800s/early 1900s to make their arts available to a wider audience. Set training drills and forms were agreed and it was Funokoshi Gichin who came up with the term "Kara-Te". Many people think that the "empty" part of "empty hand" means that you fight without weapons, using only your bare hands and feet. Though this is true, the "Kara" ideograph that is used means "spiritually" empty as opposed to "physically" empty. Funokoshi Gichin used this ideograph to show that karate was more than just kicking and punching, it was also a "Do".
The word "Do" indicates that the system of fighting is not merely a collection of combat skills, but a system that also promotes a "way of life" or a "way of living". Judo, Karate(do), Aikido and similar Japanese martial arts promote courtesy, respect for self and others, discipline, self control and good manners.
The primary function of a "Do" art is to become a better person, the fighting /self defence aspect is merely one method used to become a better person.
For more information on the history of some of the main traditional karate styles please click the links below.