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Karate is practiced by millions of people daily of all sexes and age groups because it is enjoyable to learn (with the right instructor), and is good for the mind, body and spirit whilst learning a
Below find out about karate history, etiquette, basics and terminology or to find a club and enjoy what karate has to offer by turning up for a karate training session.
And always remember that meditation has traditionally been the cornerstone to any good martial art.
China to Japan:
Martial arts was probably introduced to Japan by Japanese soldiers (Samurai), diplomats and Zen Buddhist monks that traveled between China and Japan, trading and sharing religious views.
Whilst in China the Japanese learned/trained a form of kung fu (possibly white crane style), which was slowly introduced and integrated into Japanese (early Samurai) culture.
The martial art that was learned eventually developed into many different styles of karate over a 450 year period after the 6th or 7th century.
History of Okinawan Karate YouTube
Wikipedia - Goju Ryu
YouTube - Goju Ryu Training exercises
Gojuryu karate Breathing Techniques
In 1372 Okinawan - Chinese kung fu had developed into a form of fist fighting locally known as tode (T'ang hand, from T'ang dynasty 618 - 907 A.D.) or China hand.
By the 14th century a definite style/form of Okinawan karate had started to develop into its own style.
A major contribution to the introduction of kung fu which developed into karate was during the Ming dynasty (1368-1664) when a group of families (known as the 36 families) migrated to Okinawa from the Fukien province, China, to Kume-mura, a suburb of Naha, Okinawa, where Chinese martial arts masters taught their kung fu systems to Okinawans.
In 1429 Okinawa was conquered by a feudal lord.
The new Okinawan master banned all weapons on the islands. The weapons ban stimulate further developments of empty hand combat techniques (including acu-point striking) basically for self-protection, protection of property and to protect family.
First karate styles:
Some of the first styles of empty hand combat were called Naha-te, Shuri-te and Toamari-te. In the 18th century modern day Okinawan karate styles began to emerge into definite original systems;
Shorin-ryu (Shuri-te this style focuses on speed) which is more is suited for a small framed body that naturally has less strength, and Shorei-ryu (Naha-te this style focuses on flexibility) which was more suited for a larger framed person, Gichin Funakoshi tells us that Shorei-ryu was a more effective form of self-defense, but lacked the mobility of Shorin-ryu (style = ryu).
Naha-te divided into two definite styles: Goju-ryu and Uechi-ryu. Shuri-te divided into three karate styles: Shobayashi-ru Shorin-ryu, Kobayashi-ryu Shorin-ryu and Matsubayashi-ryu Shorin-ryu.
By 1880 the name karate (T'ang hand which eludes to Chinese martial arts out of respect for Chinese instruction) was used freely amongst Japanese martial artists. The term for karate changed around 1905 to te hand which angered some of martial art purist because it moved away from the Chinese connection.
Wikipedia - Wado Ryu
YouTube - Wado Ryu
Gichin Funakoshi (Shuri-te master) the father of modern day karate writes that the Te in the word karate means "hand (s)". But there are two quite different characters that are both pronounced kara; which means "empty," and that the other is the Chinese character referring to the T'ang dynasty and may be translated "Chinese".
Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957 -
father of modern day karate) writes:
So should our martial art be written with the characters that mean "empty hand (s)"? or those that mean "Chinese hand (s)"? In the early 1920s, it was customary to use the character for "Chinese" rather than that for "empty" to write karate, but this is certainly does not mean that the use of "Chinese" kara was necessarily correct.
True, in Okinawa we used the word karate, but more often we called the art merely te or bushi no te, "warrior's hand (s)." Thus, we might speak of a man as having studied te or as having had experience in bushi no te. As to when te first became karate in Okinawan usage, I must refrain from offering even in conjecture, since there is no written material in existence that would provide us with the vaguest hint, much less tell us whether the character used was that for "Chinese" kara rather than the "empty" kara, but that is, as I say, can only be the merest guesswork. I found it difficult to believe that "Chinese hands (s)" was the correct term to describe Okinawan karate as it has evolved over the centuries.
I was to rename the art as Dai Nippon Kempo Karate-Do ("Great Japan fist-Method Empty-Hands Way"), making use of the character for "empty" rather than that for "Chinese." My suggestion initially elicited violent outbursts of criticism in both Tokyo and Okinawa, but I had confidence in the change and have adhered to it over the years. Since then, it has in fact gained such wide acceptance that the word karate would look strange to all of us now if it were written with the "Chinese" kara character.
- Gichin Funakoshi - Okinawan karate "Shotokan"?
- karate etiquette & basics
- karate Terminology
- kata & weapons
When Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957 and founder of Shotokan karate style) lived in Okinawa he would enjoy walking in, and amongst the pine forest (especially after a karate lesson) to be at one with nature by enjoying the night sky, looking up at the stars and listening to the wind blowing through the pine forests, for this reason, the love of the sound of the forests moving in nature, Ginchin Funakoshi used the name shoto (which means pine waves) to sign his poetry, calligraphy and letters, shoto was literally Gichin Funakoshi's pen name.
When the first purpose built karate hall was built in Tokyo it was dedicated with the name shotokan above the dojo entrance which, when translated means "pine waves hall" out of love and respect for Master Funakoshi sensei.
YouTube - History of Okinawan Karate
Flexibility - Karate clubs generally spent at least 30 minutes warming up the body and about 10 minutes at the end to cool the body down. Karateka that are not naturally flexible should not worry or force themselves to become unnaturally flexible as this can cause injury which will mean students cannot train.
Karate clubs will always have some naturally flexible students that make the techniques look easy and beautiful but it does not mean they are good at combat, that will always be an individual thing (could be genetic). Research into suppleness suggested that the Mongolian race are genetically the most naturally flexible race, followed closely by the Chinese.
Personal flexibility has a lot to do with genetic code passed down from generation to generation, as being supple depends on how genetically elastic the tendons (connects muscle to bone), ligaments (connects bone to bone) and any connective tissue are formed in each individuals body.
Twisting energy - Make sure that when striking, punching or blocking, the arm, hand or fist twists exactly at the point of contact as this will dramatically increase the force of the strike, punch or block, with the attacker or defender needing less effort to apply the skills they have been taught. Diligently applying twisting energy to techniques will help increase timing and improve technique so that the power, strength and delivery of an effective blow or block can become almost hidden.
Muscles - Always make sure the muscles are warmed up when practicing karate to avoid injury. Do-not become over muscled as this may slow down the speed a punch or kick can be delivered.
Eating before training - Do-not eat 1-2 hours before training as the food (eat a carbohydrate food as your pre-training meal to fuel the brain and body) that has been eaten will have to be digested.
Why not eat? Because when food is consumed blood is shunted to the stomach to aid digestion which means the muscles will receive less blood, and thus less oxygen because there is less blood (oxygen is carried in blood cells) available for muscle use.
High exercise without a good blood-oxygen supply for the muscles could lead to severe muscle cramps and unnecessary muscle fatigue during a training session.
Drink water - Exercise can cause de-hydration (loss of water) so do have access to a water source during a training session. A daily consumption of 2 litres of fresh clean water is advisable for all people, and especially when exercising regularly as blood needs water to be healthy, so do the joints to help with lubrication and the brain cells need a good water supply for thinking.
Do-not drink too much water (known as over-hydration) as this could cause the brain to swell and flush the body systems of vitamins and minerals which will lead to severe illness.
Poor water consumption during or before a training session could unnecessarily lead to severe muscle cramps and muscle fatigue during a training session.
Karate basics consists in 3 forms (as laid down by Gichin Funakoshi):
Dojo (training hall) etiquette (behaviour):
When entering the dojo, at the entrance, sensei's (instructor/teacher), students and instructors should bow towards the hall (standing bow ritsu-rei) out of respect for the training area.
When leaving the dojo, at the entrance, sensei's (instructor/teacher), students and instructors should bow towards the hall (standing bow ritsu-rei) out of respect for the training area.
Karate Gi's (training suit) must always be clean and personal cleanliness/odour should be kept fresh.
At the start of a session students and instructor(s) make a standing bow to each-other, then is some ryu's (styles), bow in the seiza position (kneeling position - za-rei), followed by standing and bowing again (standing bow ritsu-rei).
During a karate training session students regularly bow respectfully to each-other when practicing techniques on each-other.
When students bow they always keep at least peripheral eye contact. During mutual training, combat etc. eye contact is constant.
The sensei (instructor/teacher) is, traditionally, the highest grade in the class receives a bow (ni-rei) from the whole class at the beginning and end of a lesson.
When the sensei gives instruction it is usual for students to show respect and acknowledge the sensei's instruction with the sound "oose" (which means I understand). The constant bowing is a way to tell other students that you are not their to be a personal threat with the idea of causing damage but are instead respectful and eager to learn.
At the start of the class students line up by rank. Dan grades should allow more experienced black belts that may hold a lower grade stand higher in the belt/grade order out of respect (to not respect this rule should be seen as ignorant, rude and arrogant, the sensei should intervene).
The sensei when counting usually counts in Japanese (1 to 10 below):
The sensei may say "Chudan" (aim for the abdomen), "Jodan" (aim to the face area) or "Gedan" (lower abdomen and below-as in Gedan-bari - down-wards blocking), which indicates the attack or defense should be directed to the face, abdominal or sub-abdominal area.
When students spar (kumite combat) or practice with each other strict safety rules should be observed.
To strike another student without respect for their individual safety is extremely disrespectful because the person who has been neglectfully struck has turned up for the class out of good faith to learn karate skills, not be put into the local hospital.
Students that show no respect for safety should be reprimanded by the sensei and if their disrespect continues asked to permanently leave the dojo.
The sensei will explain training moves and positions as students stand in a preparation position, the sensei will next give the command "Yoi" (which means be ready or prepare) to prepare the students, to apply the technique just explained (students sometimes reply "Yoi" with "oose").
The next command the sensei gives is "Hajime" which is the signal for students to execute the technique previously shown by the sensei. The students may be asked to complete a technique repetitively to develop muscle memory.
When the sensei wants students to stop and relax the command "Yame" (stop) is given and students can either stand into an informal ready stance (Heisoku-dachi), or stay in the stance they are currently in (depending on the instruction the sensei gives to the students).
Technical note: the striking point of the fist (Ken) is usually the index and middle finger knuckles, this area is known as Seiken.
At the end of the class students line up by rank. Dan grades should allow more experienced black belts that may hold a lower grade stand higher in the belt/grade order out of respect (to not respect this rule should be seen as ignorant, rude and arrogant, the sensei should intervene).
Students kneel into seiza and the command "Mu-shin" is given, students close or half open their eyes and meditate until the sensei gives the command to open the eyes ("Yame"), students then bow to the sensei and the sensei replies, the class then stands and bow again to the sensei and the sensei bows back, students then bow to each other and the class ends.
Students who are not physically able to kneel because of injury or a medical condition should be exempt from kneeling or excessive training, and can stand during the beginning and end of the class but still enter into the spirit of the dojo.
Gichin Funakoshi's shotokan dojo rules (Dojo Kun):
First. Seek perfection of character
First. Protect the way of the truth
First. Foster the spirit of effort
First. Respect the principles of etiquette and respect others
First. Guard against impetuous courage and refrain from violent behaviour
Ashi-barai: Foot sweep
Budo: Way of combat
Bunkai: Application (interpretation) of kata techniques
Dojo: School or training room
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita: "Thank-you very much"
Embusen: Floor pattern/lines of a kata
Gohon kumite: Five-step sparring
Hai: Yes (or oose - I understand)
Ippon kumite: One-step sparring
Jiyu kumite: Free sparring
Karate: Empty Hand
Karate Do:The Way of Katate
Karateka: Practitioner of Karate
Kata: Practice form
Kiai: Spirit shout/focus of spiritual energy (focus of ki/chi energy through using the voice - a form of chi gong)
Kihon: Fundamentals/Basics (controlling chi through movement - a form of chi gong)
Kimae: Focus (Ki = Chi & mae = energy focus - this is a form of chi gong)
Mokuso: Meditate/Gather Your Thoughts
Onegai Shimasu: "I welcome you to train with me" Literally: " I make a request." Said to one's partner when initiating practice.
Oose (osu): "I understand and will try my best." Also used to show respect, enthusiasm
Renshi: Entry Level Master
Shihan: Master Instructor
Shotokan: "House of Shoto”; “Pine-Sea-waves”; pen name of Funakoshi
Tai-sabaki: Body shifting
Yakusoku kumite: "Promise" premeditated sparring
Yori-ashi: Sliding the feet
Zanshin: Poise and control
Zuki (Tsuki): Punch
Go no sen: Seizing the initiative later; Allowing your opponent to attack first so as to open up target for counter-attacks
Ikken Hissatsu: "To kill with one blow" (Iron hand karate)
Karate ni sente nashi: Karate does not include the first move
Karate wa sente nari: Karate is the first move
Zanshin: Awareness; Continuing mind/heart - connotes "following through" a technique while maintaining awareness
Sen no sen: Seizing the initiative earlier; attacking at the same moment your opponent attacks
Sen sen no sen: Seizing the opponent’s sen no sen; Attacking before your opponent attacks-a preemptive attack
Shorei style kata: Slow, strong movement, emphasizing strength
Shorin style kata: Quick movement, emphasizing speed
Sun-dome: Stopping a technique just prior to contact (three centimeters)
Empi (also Hiji): Elbow
Ensho: Back of the heel
Gedan: Lower level
Heisoku: Top (instep) of the foot
Hiza (also Hitsui): Knee
Ippon Ken: Single-point index-finger Fist
Jiku Ashi: Pivot leg
Jodan: Head level
Kakato: Heel of the foot
Kaishu: Open hand
Koshi: Ball of the foot
Naiwan: Back of Arm
Sokuto: Outer edge (knife) of the foot
Tate Ken: Vertical Fist
Teisho: Palm heel
Teisoku: Bottom of the foot
Tsumasaki: Toe tips
Hyaku: One Hundred
Age-te: Hands up (cover position)
Mawatte: Turn around
Naore: Return to Shizen-tai
Narande: Line up
Otaigai ni: Face towards each other
Seiza: Meditation position-kneeling
Seiretsu: Line up by rank
Sensei ni: Face towards the teacher
Shomen ni: Face towards the front
Yasume: Relax (or ready position)
Chudan: Mid-high level
Gedan: Low level; Down
Jodan: Head high level
DACHI WAZA (STANCES)
Fudo dachi: Fighting Stance
Hachiji dachi: Open-legged Stance (Yoi)
Hangetsu dachi: Wide Hour-glass Stance
Heisoku dachi: Formal Attention Stance (Yoi)
Hidari Ashi Orishiku: Left Leg Kneeling
Kiba dachi: Straddle Stance
Kokutsu dachi: Back Stance
Kosa dachi: Cross-legged Stance
Migi Ashi Orishiku: Right Leg Kneeling
Musubi dachi: Informal Attention Stance (feet in a 'V")
Neko-ashi dachi:Cat Stance
Renoji dachi: "L" Stance
Shizen-tai dachi: Natural Stance
Zenkutsu dachi: Front Stance
UKE WAZA (BLOCKS) Basic blocks
Age uke: Rising block
Awase Shuto Age Uke: Combined rising knife-hand block (Kanku-Dai)
Empi uke (or Hiji uke): Elbow block (Heian 3)
Gedan uke: Down block
Haishu uke: Back-hand block (Heian 5)
Haiwan Nagashi Uke: Sweeping back-arm block
Juji uke: X block
Kakiwaki uke: Reverse wedge block (Heian 4)
Kosa uke: Cross block (Uchi/gedan uke-Heian 3)
Manji uke: Hi/low block (Heian 5)
Morote uke: Augmented block
Nagashi Uke: Sweeping block (Tekki, Jion)
Osae uke: Pressing block (Heian 2, 3)
Otoshi uke: Dropping or falling block (Heian 2, 3)
Ryowan Uchi: Uke: Double inside block (Jion, Bassai-Sho)
Seiryuto Uke: Ox-Jaw block
Shuto uke: Knife block
Sokumen Awase Uke: Side combined block (Bassai-Dai)
Soto ude uke: Outside forearm block
Sukui Uke: Scooping block (Bassai, Chinte)
Tate shuto uke: Vertical knife-hand block (Heian 3)
Te Nagashi Uke: Sweeping hand block (parry) (Heian 5)
Tsukami Uke: Grasping block (Bassai-Dai, Jion)
Uchi ude uke: Inside forearm block
GERI WAZA (KICKS)
Fumikomi geri: Stamping kick (Heian 3, 5)
Hiza geri: Knee kick/strike
Mae geri keage: Front snap kick
Mae geri kekomi: Front thrust kick
Mawashi geri: Round kick
Name ashi geri: Returning wave kick (Tekki 1)
Nidan geri: Double kick (Kanku-Dai)
Soto mikazuki geri: Outside crescent kick
Tobi geri: Flying kick
Uchi mikazuki geri: Inside crescent kick
Ushiro geri: Back thrust kick
Yoko geri keage: Side snap kick
Yoko geri kekomi: Side thrust kick
ZUKI WAZA (PUNCHES)
Age zuki: Rising punch
Awase zuki: "U" punch
Choku zuki: Straight punch
Gedan zuki: Downward punch
Gyaku zuki: Reverse punch
Ippon Ken zuki: One-knuckle fist punch (Hangetsu)
Kagi zuki: Hook punch
Kizami zuki: Jab
Morote zuki: Parallel punch
Oi-gyaku zuki: Lunging reverse punch
Oi zuki: Lunge punch
Otoshi zuki: Dropping punch (Empi)
Ren zuki: Double punch
San zuki: Triple punch
Ura zuki: Close punch
Yama zuki: Wide "U" punch
UCHI WAZA (Strikes)
Empi Uchi: Elbow Strike
Gyaku Haito Uchi:Reverse Backfist Strike
Haishu Uchi: Back Hand Strike
Haito Uchi: Index finger side of hand Strike
Hiraken Uchi: Foreknuckle Strike
Hiza Age Ate: Rising Knee Strike
Ippon Nukite Uchi: Single Finger Strike
Koko Uchi: Tiger Mouth Strike
Kumade Uchi: Bear Claw Strike
Mae Empi Uchi: Front Elbow Strike
Mawashi Empi Uchi: Round Elbow Strike
Nihon Nukite Uchi: Two Finger Strike (Fork)
Otoshi Empi Uchi: Downward Elbow Strike
Shihon Nukite Uchi: Spear Hand Strike
Shuto Uchi: Knife Hand Strike
Soto Shuto Uchi: Outside Knife Hand Strike
Tate Empi Uchi: Upward Elbow Strike
Teisho Uchi: Palm Heel Strike
Tettsui Hammer-fist strike
Uchi Shuto Uchi: Inside Knife Hand Strike
Uraken Uchi: Backfist Strike
Ushiro Empi Uchi: Back Elbow Strike
Washide Uchi: Eagle Beak Strike
Yoko Empi Uchi: Side Elbow Strike
Yoko Mawashi Empi Uchi: Side Roundhouse Elbow Strike
Bassai: Storm the Fortress (bunkai)
Chinte: Extraordinary Hands (bunkai)
Dai: Greater, big
Empi + bunkai: Flying Swallow
Gankaku: Crane on a rock (bunkai)
Hangetsu: Crescent or Half moon (bunkai)
Heian: Peaceful mind
Jion: Temple Ground (bunkai)
Jiin: Temple Sound
Jitte: Ten Hands (bunkai)
Kanku: To look at the sky (bunkai)
Nijushiho: Twenty-four steps (bunkai)
Sho: Lesser, small
Sochin: To keep the peace; Grand Suppression
Shorei style Kata: Light and quick; emphasizing agility and speed
Shorin style Kata: Slow, hard, and strong; emphasizing muscles and strength
Tekki: Iron horse stance
Ten-No-Kata: Kata of the Universe
Sanchin: 3 battles/conflicts
Gekisai Dai Ichi: Attack and destroy
Safia: Smash and Tear Apart (instructions)
Seiyunchin: Control/Suppress and Pull
Shisochin: Four Directions/Gates of Conflict/Attack
Sanseru: 36 Hands
Sepai: 18 Hands (instructions)
Kururunfa: Holding Ground
Sesan: 13 Hands
Suparinpei: 108 Hands
Tensho: Turning Palms
Taikyoku sono ichi
Taikyoku sono ni
Taikyoku sono san
Sokugi Taikyoku sono ichi
Sokugi Taikyoku sono ni
Sokugi Taikyoku sono san
Pinan Sono Ichi
Pinan Sono Ni
Pinan Sono San
Pinan Sono yon
Pinan Sono Go
WEAPONS (Kobujutsu Training)
Bokken: Wooden sword
Bo: Long staff
Jo: Short staff
Nunchaku: Thrasher (two sticks joined by a chain)
Shinai: Bamboo sword
Sai: forked knife (sai training)
Tonfa: Batons (bunkai)
Famous Martial Artists
Some of the more well known kung fu artists that are world famous come from being on film or television, such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan (wiki - Youtube), Jet Li (wiki - Youtube), Michelle Yeoh (wiki - Youtube) Chinese Kung Fu film and Television stars and the Wing Chun master that these martial some artist studied at one time Ip Man. American and European include Chuck Norris (wiki - Youtube), Lucy Liu (wiki - Youtube), Elvis Presley (wiki - Youtube), John Saxon (wiki - Youtube), Jason Statham (wiki - Youtube), Dwayne Johnson (wiki - Youtube), Jean Claude Van Damme (wiki - Youtube) and David Carradine (wiki - Youtube) to name but a few.
Japan Karate Association (JKA)
International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF)
Shotokan Karate-Do International Federation (SKIF)
International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF)
Japan Karate Association / World Federation America
Japan Karate Shotorenmei (JKS)
Japan Shotokan Karate Association (JSKA)
Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF)
Kenkojuku Karate Association (KKA)
Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB)
World Shotokan Karate-Do Federation (WSKF)
Asai Shotokan Association International (ASAI)
International Karate Daigaku (IKD)
World JKA Karate Association (WJKA)
Indian Federation Of Shotokan Karate (IFSK)
Shotokan Karate of America (SKA)
Academy of Shotokan Karate (ASK)
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