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29 Karate Facts: Practice This Ancient Japanese Technique

Written by Sridevi Tolety on 29 March 2022; Updated on 6 December 2022 Sub-edited by Urvashi Mukherjee

Martial arts traditionally practice and follow attacking and defensive techniques and systems, which were used in combat and for self-defense. The codified systems and traditions of combat known as martial arts are also useful in law enforcement, maintaining psychological and physical fitness, and a lot more. They are now performed as competitive sports as well. Martial arts not only provide entertainment to the spectators but preserve the intangible cultural heritage. The term martial art now refers generally to the fighting arts of East Asia, though the word has been derived from Latin.

History & Origin Of Karate Karate is a famous martial art with an interesting history. History of Fighting describes that the earliest written account of karate practice is from the late 1700s. The word karate stems from the words 'kara' and 'te', which means empty and hand, respectively, indicating that this art is designed for unarmed combat. According to History of Fighting, the writing of the 1700s mentioned a man named Kushanu from China who visited Okinawa island and taught a new form of kung fu, which was later named Kusanku kata or form by his disciple Sakugawa. Karate's history starts from the 14th century, from the island of Okinawa in Japan. The samurai leaders in Japan banned all weapons and imposed strict rules against their use. This shifted people's focus to the art of hand-to-hand combat, which later on took the form of karate. Shuri-te, Tomari-te and Naha-te are the early styles of karate. These are the names of the three cities from which each of the styles emerged. The person who introduced karate to the Japanese mainland in 1922 is believed to be Gichin Funakoshi, who is also believed to be the father of modern karate.

Karate In Popular Culture Modern East Asian martial arts and South Asian martial arts formed due to the cultural exchanges of ancient Chinese and Indian martial arts. People who practice karate generally do it for physical exercise and to learn self-defense techniques. Popular styles of karate are Goju Ryu, Shotokan, Wado Ryu, and Shito Ryu. Some other practiced styles include Kempo, Kyokushin, Shorin Ryu, Uechi Ryu, etc. Many sub-styles or schools of karate were formed as people started naming their karate schools after their master's name. Karategi refers to the special clothes that people wear while they practice karate. They also wear a colored belt on the karategi which consists of a white jacket and white pants. This colored belt, worn while disciples practice karate, shows their rank or how long the disciples are training. There are many karate practitioners who also train to use traditional Japanese weapons. Karateka is the name for karate practitioners, originating from Japanese. As modern Karate focuses on the psychological elements, students are taught various mental and psychological features along with the physical characteristics of the art. Generally, for a karateka to become a black belt, about three to seven years of practice will be required.

The father of modern karate, Gichin Funakoshi, is the founder of one of the most known and practiced forms of karate. His karate style is known as Shotokan Karate. He was a legend in the discipline of karate.

Matsumura Sokon engaged in propagating the discipline and creating interest in people to practice karate. He was one of the first and original Okinawan masters of early karate and has significantly contributed to the development of this art.

Another name not to be missed in the list of famous karate fighters is Masatoshi Nakayama. Born in a family of kenjitsu teachers, he started his training from Gichin Funakoshi himself.

A name remembered fondly by the karate lovers is Mikio Yahara. A stunning example of the success of the Japan Karate Association, Yahara was a consummate master of karate and reached 10th dan belt level in Shotokan karate. Chojun Miyagi is the karate exponent who inspired the character of Mr. Miyagi in the popular movie, namely 'The Karate Kid'.

Mas Oyama is the karate master who established his own dojo. He did a lot of traveling and demonstrated his brand of karate. These demonstrations often included immobilizing bulls with bare hands.

Kenwa Mabuni introduced his own style known as Shito-Ryu karate-do and was one of the first karate masters to teach this style in mainland Japan.

Karate Techniques There are different karate techniques used in delivering strikes, the stances to take while fighting, how to block each type of strike, and more. The original style, when started, was simple, but the fighting style was rough. It now employs circular means for defense. The attack is based on a linear structure. The moves were blended and polished by various martial arts masters making them somewhat difficult to practice. Along with joint locks and throws, karate focuses on strikes and kicks. Predominantly a striking art, Karate fighters do elbow strikes, punching, knee strikes, kicking, and more. Open-hand techniques like palm-heel, knife-hands, and spear-hands strikes are also used by a karateka. Self-control is another technique taught and practiced in karate. It is really important to practice self-control as the methods taught are deadly if used in the correct way. It would be disastrous to use such techniques without self-control. In karate, there are 27 vital points used in the attack, 43 arm techniques, 14 foot techniques, eight foot movements, 16 stances and 32 blocking techniques. Shotokan technique uses 25 stances, three preparatory positions, 69 striking and 40 kicking techniques. It employs reception techniques of various types with 40 using arms and five using legs. Shitō-ryū techniques consist of 20 stances, 17 blocking techniques, 19 striking techniques and 15 kicking techniques. The rigorous and expertise-driven training methods of this martial art helps a practitioner not only to be physically fit but also to become a mentally and psychologically strong person.

FAQs What are the 5 rules of karate? The five rules of karate are effort, etiquette, character, self-control and sincerity. Who invented karate? Master Gichin Funakoshi is believed to be the person who developed modern karate. What is special about karate? A healthy workout involving the entire body and the principles and techniques for self-

defense and self-control makes this martial art special. Who is known as the father of karate? Master Gichin Funakoshi is known as the father of modern karate.

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