Japanese Martial Arts, Karate

2013.05.12 [CULTURE,WHAT'S NEW]


Along with China’s Kung Fu, Karate is probably the most famous and
well recognised of all the martial arts. It is a discipline famed for it’s philosophical and ethical approach, and for it’s strict training regiments.
 Karate is practiced as a martial art, as a self defense method, and as
a combat sport. Apart from exercise and competition, Karate teaches
self-discipline, perseverance, bravery, virtue and leadership.


Karate means “Open Hand”, although it’s original meaning meant
“The Hand of the Tang Dynasty”.  Modern Karate originated in the
Okinawan Islands and is a fusion of original Okinawan and Chinese
fighting disciplines. It’s early practitioners were less warrior, more
peasant class, hence Karate’s use of farm implement-like weapons,
such as the fork like Sai, the sickle, the Nunchuku, which were
originally a rice threshing tool, and the Bo, or quarterstaff.
Karate was introduced to the Japanese mainland following Okinawa’s
(Then known as the Ryukyu Kingdom’s) annexation in the late 19th
Century.  Once introduced to mainland Japan, Karate was transformed
into a Japanese art.  The names of the various techniques were
changed from their Okinawan titles to Japanese names, and Japanese
Budo (Martial) ideals and structures were added for it to be accepted
by the governing authority on the fighting arts at the time, the Greater
Japan Martial Virtue Society.  Karate’s ranking system is based on that
of Judo, and the uniform is also similar, but lighter weight than the thick,
heavy keikogi top worn in Judo.


Karate is characterized by a number of punching and kicking techniques incorporating knee
and elbow strikes. Some schools train in vital point strikes and the famed Open Handed
“Karate Chop” as well as grappling, locking and restraining, and throwing techniques.
Karate moves are executed from a stable, standing position. Although not practiced by all styles,
Tameshiwari, or the breaking of boards, bricks, and kawara roof tiles amongst other items,
with the fist, open hand, feet, legs or elbows is often seen in demonstration and competitive events.
Traditional Japanese schools place little emphasis on such breaking techniques. Full contact, semi
and light contact Karate is practiced by a number of various schools.



Following World War Two, Karate became popular amongst servicemen stationed at the American military
bases established in Okinawa. Karate enjoyed further world wide exposure and remains popular to this day
thanks to the near mythical status awarded by the many pop-culture Martial Arts movies of the 1960’s ,
70’s. and 80’s.


Related Article of this Post

2013.05.14 CULTURE Japanese Martial Arts, Kyudo
2013.05.11 CULTURE Japanese Martial Arts, Kendo


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