It wasn't generally referred to as karate . For hundreds of years, Okinawa's native fighting art was regarded just as te , or hand. There have been a variety of sub-systems and family techniques, most of them top secret. There is very little question there presently exists even now secret family techniques that haven't been discovered even today. Through the years, the 3 places --China, Japan, and Okinawa all traded, and Okinawa acquired martial information from The southern area of The far east, as mariners and travelers from the two nations traded information and methods.