Karate Roots

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Style: Karate (pronounced kuh-rah-tay)
Meaning: “Empty hand”
Country of origin: Japan

Karate

Karate was developed in Okinawa, an island in Japan. However, when this martial arts style was developed, Okinawa was ruled by China. Hence the Chinese are credited with the founding of this style. Derived from Kung Fu and Kempo (Chinese Boxing) by the Okinawan farmers in order to fight the Chinese occupiers, and later the Japanese aggressors. It was designed to be swift and violent, quickly fighting an enemy using foot and hand strikes and not getting involved in grappling, though the opponent may be held on to for a short amount of time in order to prevent them from dodging an attack. Non-traditional weapon use was also incorporated into Karate training because of the weapons readily available to farmers. These weapons are still used in practice today including the Kama, Nunchaku, and Sai.

Over the centuries Karate has been fragmented into many different styles, forms or schools. Many of these different styles are very similar with only slight differences in their forms, a few however differ significantly in training techniques and forms. An example of the significant differences are the use of circular blocks (which sweep the attacking limb out of the way) or linear blocks (which meet the attacking limb directly with the intent of damaging it). Karate is an continually evolving art with many new styles and schools younger then 100 years. Interestingly, Karate did not take on a spiritual side until the 20th century with the development of Karate-do in which students study Karate as a means of self-improvement.

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