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What Is Karate

What is karate?

  • Karate, meaning ‘empty-hand’, has ancient Indian and Chinese origins based on Zen Buddhism. A ban on weapons lead to karate’s development on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa around 200 years ago. Karate was brought to mainland Japan by Master Funakoshi in 1922 who created the training system used in modern karate classes.


 

  • Karate teaches how the whole body, breathing and movement can be combined in defence against a stronger opponent. Discipline, etiquette and respect for others are an important part of the training, as seen by the traditional Japanese bow.


 

  • Karate is defensive martial art and its practitioners, karate-ka, use open and closed hand strikes, kicks and blocks to defend themselves and others. It has three main disciplines:

    • Kihon: basic karate blocks and strikes. Starting with single techniques, progressing to advanced combinations.

    • Kata: kihon techniques are combined into set pieces to teach movement, direction and application

    • Kumite: combat against an opponent with single prearranged strikes and blocks. Students advance to defend themselves against punches and kicks from multiple opponents and directions. Finally students are taught Jiyu kumite – free sparring.


 

  • Karate is rooted in Japanese ethics of Bushido – ‘the warrior’s code’. The seven virtues that define its spirit are:

    • Jin: Benevolence toward mankind; Universal love; compassion.

    • Makoto: Utter sincerity; truthfulness.

    • Chugi: Devotion and Loyalty.

    • Meiyo: Honor and glory.

    • Yu: Valor; bravery, tinged with heroism.

    • Rei: Proper behaviour; courtesy.

    • Gi: The right decision, taken with equanimity; Rectitude.

  • Through technique and training Karate-ka develop both their mind and body.


 

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