hotokan karate is the most popular style of traditional Japanese karate. Karate means “empty hand” in Japanese. Karate-do means “empty hand way.” Karate was introduced to mainland Japan from Okinawa in 1922 by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Master Funakoshi had studied karate as a young man while living in Okinawa and was a college professor.
oday, karate-do is practiced as a martial art, sport, and proven method of self defense. Like other Japanese martial arts, or “budo,” the ultimate aim of karate-do is the perfection of the character of its participants. Through training, karate students learn self-control, mental and physical self-discipline, and the development of highly effective self-defense and fighting techniques. As such, karate training can be an excellent means of attaining and maintaining physical and emotional fitness and self-discipline. Traditional karate training involves basic training, forms or “kata” training, and sparring.
apanese karate differs from tae kwon do, kung fu, and other martial arts because karate techniques are focused. This requires them to be performed with full mental concentration, proper speed, power, coordination, breathing, and body connection. A karate technique that is properly focused will have the practitioner’s entire body and mind behind it and it will have great force and effect on the target or opponent if contact is made. Karate techniques include punches, blocks, kicks, sweeps, throws, joint locks, jumps, etc. Karate competition is popular with many karate practitioners and a number of karate organizations sponsor tournaments. In traditional karate tournaments, however, no contact is allowed in sparring and the techniques must be fully controlled.
t generally takes three (3) to five (5) years of regular training under a qualified instructor to reach the level of first (1st) degree black belt (dan) in traditional Shotokan karate. At that point, the karate practitioner, or “karateka,” should have mastered the basics of karate and be ready to begin training at a more advanced level.
© 2004 Shotokan Karate Club