What Is Karate


Master Gichin Funakoshi was the first expert to introduce karate-do to mainland Japan, in 1916. One of the few people to have been initiated into all the major Okinawan karate methods, Master Funakoshi taught a synthesis of the Okinawan styles, as a total discipline. This method became known as Shotokan (literally “House of Shoto,” Funakoshi’s pen name). Because of the great popularity of the style in Japan and, later, around the world, Funakoshi is widely considered to be the “father of modern karate-do.”

Shotokan is a “hard” style of karate, emphasizing the development and control of power, smoothness and balance in punching, kicking and body shifting techniques. Advanced training includes both force deflection and opponent control techniques. This is not a tournament oriented school, nor is board breaking practiced. Self defence and free sparring techniques are taught as applications of basic techniques. Weapons are not taught routinely

What is Karate-Do?

Karate-do is a martial art that originated in Okinawa, modified and transformed into a way of life by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Before these modifications, it was just a group of techniques that permitted self-defense without the use of any weapons other than your hands and feet. Though there was some Chinese influence, the development was Okinawan, and later mainland Japanese. Master Funakoshi, inspired by traditional martial arts from the main Japanese islands modified Karate, and emphasized the philosophical aspects of the art. This way all that was learnt could be extrapolated to the daily life of the student. This is why Karate is a ‘way of life’: Karate-do (do, means way or road). Gichin Funakoshi, thus, combined Karate techniques with traditional Budo (the martial way), inserting the essence of Budo in the heart of Karate.

What does the word Karate mean?

The word Karate is formed by the use of two characters. The first, kara (empty) and the other te (hand)

  • The first definition is the least subtle and the most straightforward.

    Through the practice of karate, self defense techniques are learnt, where no weapons are needed, other than hands, feet or other parts of the body.

  • The second requires more explanation.

    ( In the words of Master Funakoshi ) always striving to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle, thus meaning an internal emptiness of egoism and acting gently and moderately.

    WHAT IS KARATE? by Master Gichin Funakoshi.

    In Okinawa, a miraculous and mysterious martial art has come down to us from the past. It is said that one who masters its techniques can defend himself readily without resort to weapons and can perform remarkable feats: the breaking of several thick boards with his fist or ceiling panels of a room with a kick. With his shuto (“sword hand”) he can kill a bull with a single stroke; he can pierce the flank of a horse with his open hand; he can cross a room grasping the beams of the ceiling with his fingers, crush a green bamboo stalk with his bare hand, shear a hemp rope with a twist, or gouge soft rock with his hands. Some consider these aspects of this miraculous and mysterious martial art to be the essence of Karate-do. But such feats are a small part of karate, playing a role analogous to the straw-cutting test of Kendo (Japanese fencing), and it is erroneous to think that there is no more to Karate-do than this. In fact, true Karate-do places weight upon spiritual rather than physical matters, as we shall discuss. True Karate-do is this: that in daily life, one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility; and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice.

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