Karate is a Japanese martial art and it means empty hand. Karate is an unarmed martial-arts discipline employing kicking, striking, and defensive blocking using arms and legs. This martial arts emphasis is on concentrating as much of the body’s power as possible at the point of impact. Striking surfaces include the hands (particularly the knuckles and the outer edge), ball of the foot, heel, forearm, knee, and elbow. All of these are toughened by practicing blows against padded surfaces or wood. Pine boards up to several inches in thickness can be broken with the bare hands or feet of an expert. Timing, tactics, and spirit, however, are each considered at least as important as physical toughening.
In sport karate and sparring (kumite) in training, blows and kicks are stopped before landing, preferably within an inch of contact. Matches usually last about three minutes, to a decision, if neither contestant has scored a clean “killing” point in the estimation of the judges. Contests of form (kata) are also held, in which single competitors perform a predetermined series of movements simulating defense and counterattack against several opponents. Performances are scored by a panel of judges, as in gymnastics.
Goju-ryu is a style of karate that was established in 1930 by Chojun Miyagi who was a student of Kanryo Higaonna. This form is comprised of formidable counter-strike movements in the offensive positions and soft and circular blocks in the defensive positions that resemble jujitsu. It also uses breathing power and a variety of stances that offer soft and hard techniques capable of showing the differences between karate styles.
Shotokan-ryu is a style created by the Gichin Funakoshi himself and named after the penname he used for writing poetry. After studying in Okinawa, he moved to Tokyo in mainland Japan and established this style in 1938. Utilising wide stances and linear methods, this form enables students to deliver impressive strikes in a quick and efficient manner using the hands, elbows, knees and feet. By far the most popular style, this one is widely known throughout the world.
The third style of Karate is Wado-Ryu.This style of karate is an offshoot of Shotokan-ryu and is all about the harmony of movements, being rather similar to the martial art jujitsu. Hienori Otsuka created this spiritual form of karate in 1939. Rather than focusing on contact sparring, it teaches students how to move the body to avoid attacks. As a way of distinguishing itself from other karate styles, this fluid form of karate uses shorter stances compared to other ones.
This fourth style, called Shito-ryu and created in 1928 by Kenwa Mabuni, is all about landing powerfully accurate strikes. A high emphasis is placed on technique in these styles, as evidenced by the fifty katas students learn, which are predetermined moves for attacks and defense that students must perfect. Oftentimes, these katas are demonstrated as part of competitions and students can be tested on them. This particular style requires physical strength and strong stances to perform the moves.
Martial arts or karate in particular teach self-defense. Building reflexes to stand up to a threat is important for children and adults. Learning self-defense maneuvers is a key skill that is developed by learning karate or other martial arts. When children are confronted by bullies, the techniques they learn in karate give them the ability to defend themselves. It also builds confidence, develops character, encourages self discipline and improves your health.