It is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands (karate chop).Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught in some styles . A karate practitioner is called a karateka .
Karate was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to its 19th century annexation by Japan. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans.
In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs.
After the Second World War, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.
The martial arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase its popularity and the word karate began to be used in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Oriental martial arts.Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art.
Shigeru Egami, Chief Instructor of Shotokan Dojo, opined "that the majority of followers of karate in overseas countries pursue karate only for its fighting techniques...Movies and television...depict karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow...the mass media present a pseudo art far from the real thing." Shoshin Nagamine said "Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one's own creative efforts."
For many practitioners, karate is a deeply philosophical practice. Karate-do teaches ethical principles and can have spiritual significance to its adherents. Gichin Funakoshi ("Father of Modern Karate") titled his autobiography Karate-Do: My Way of Life in recognition of the transforming nature of karate study. Today karate is practiced for self-perfection, for cultural reasons, for self-defense and as a sport. In 2005, in the 117th IOC (International Olympic Committee) voting, karate did not receive the necessary two thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport. Web Japan (sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) claims there are 50 million karate practitioners worldwide.
The World Karate Federation recognizes these styles of karate in its kata list
The World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO) recognizes these styles of karate in its kata list
Many schools would be affiliated with, or heavily influenced by, one or more of these styles
Karate can be practiced as an art (bud), as a sport, as a combat sport, or as self defense training. Traditional karate places emphasis on self development (bud). Modern Japanese style training emphasizes the psychological elements incorporated into a proper kokoro (attitude) such as perseverance, fearlessness, virtue, and leadership skills. Sport karate places emphasis on exercise and competition. Weapons (kobud) is important training activity in some styles.
Karate training is commonly divided into kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
In 1924 Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate, adopted the Dan system from judo founder Jigoro Kano using a rank scheme with a limited set of belt colors. Other Okinawan teachers also adopted this practice. In the Ky/Dan system the beginner grades start with a higher numbered ky (e.g., 10th Ky or Juky) and progress toward a lower numbered ky. The Dan progression continues from 1st Dan (Shodan, or 'beginning dan') to the higher dan grades. Ky-grade karateka are referred to as "color belt" or mudansha ("ones without dan/rank"). Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha (holders of dan/rank). Yudansha typically wear a black belt. Requirements of rank differ among styles, organizations, and schools. Ky ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination. Speed and power are added at higher grades. Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting promotion. Testing consists of demonstration of techniques before a panel of examiners. This will vary by school, but testing may include everything learned at that point, or just new information. The demonstration is an application for new rank (shinsa) and may include kata, bunkai, self-defense, routines, tameshiwari (breaking), and/or kumite (sparring). Black belt testing may also include a written examination.
Due to the popularity of martial arts, both in mass media and reality, a large number of disreputable, fraudulent, or misguided teachers and schools have arisen, approximately over the last 40 years. Commonly referred to as a "McDojo" or a "Black Belt Mill," these schools are commonly headed by martial artists of either dubious skill or business ethics.
Gichin Funakoshi interpreted the "kara" of Karate-d to mean "to purge [oneself] of selfish and evil thoughts. For only with a clear mind and conscience can [the practitioner] understand that [knowledge] which he receives." Funakoshi believed that one should be "inwardly humble and outwardly gentle." Only by behaving humbly can one be open to Karate's many lessons. This is done by listening and being receptive to criticism. He considered courtesy of prime importance. He said that "Karate is properly applied only in those rare situations in which one really must either down another or be downed by him." Funakoshi did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime. He stated that Karate practitioners must "never be easily drawn into a fight." It is understood that one blow from a real expert could mean death. It is clear that those who misuse what they have learned bring dishonor upon themselves. He promoted the character trait of personal conviction. In "time of grave public crisis, one must have the courage...to face a million and one opponents." He taught that indecisiveness is a weakness.
Film and popular culture
Karate spread rapidly in the West through popular culture. In 1950s popular fiction, karate was at times described to readers in near-mythical terms, and it was credible to show Western experts of unarmed combat as unaware of Eastern martial arts of this kind. By the 1970s, martial arts films had formed a mainstream genre that propelled karate and other Asian martial arts into mass popularity.
The Karate Kid (1984) an its sequels The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), The Karate Kid, Part III (1989) and The Next Karate Kid (1994) are films relating the fictional story of an American adolescent's introduction into karate.
Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos(1986), animated children's show, with Chuck Norris himself appearing to reveal the episode and the moral contained in the episode.
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