WHAT IS KARATE
Karate is a traditional system of self defence and physical culture that originates from Okinawa and Japan. The word is formed from the Japanese words Kara (empty) and Te (hand), symbolising that its practitioners – Karate-ka – are unarmed, but use their hands and feet for blocking and striking. The themes of traditional karate training are empty hand combat and self-defense, though its mental and moral aspects target the overall improvement of the individual. This is facilitated by the discipline and persistent effort required in training
There are several fundamental styles of Karate which all conform to the above definition, but use slightly different training methods and place varying degrees of emphasis on issues such as the speed, strength and range of techniques – thus you will hear some described as ‘fast’ styles, others as ‘strong’ styles.
Shotokan is a style of Karate which emphasises a balanced development of all these aspects, taught within a system which instils confidence and self-control. The Shotokan style was originated by an Okinawa teacher of physical education, Gichin Funakoshi, who introduced it to Japan in 1922, where it was developed extensively by the Japanese Master, Masatoshi Nakayama. Shotokan has spread to become the most widely practiced style of Karate throughout the World.
Shotokan training is usually divided into three parts, Kihon (basics), Kata (forms or patterns of moves), and Kumite (sparring).
The practice and mastery of kihon is essential to all advanced training, and includes the practice of correct body form and breathing, while practicing basics such as stances, punches, kicks, blocks, and thrusts. Kihon is not only practicing techniques, it is also helps the practitioner foster the correct spirit and attitude at all times.
A Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in a group. Kata originally were teaching and training methods by which successful combat techniques were preserved and passed on. Practicing kata allowed a company of persons to engage in a struggle using a systematic approach, rather than as individuals in a disorderly manner.
Literally translated means “grappling hands”. Kumite is the part of karate in which a person trains against adversary, using the techniques learned from the kihon and kata. Kumite can be used to develop a particular technique or a skill (e.g. effectively judging and adjusting one’s distance from one’s opponent) or it can be done in competition.