Modern day karate is considered a Japanese martial art although its origins can be traced back to the island of Okinawa, and from there to China and the Shaolin Temple. The correct name is in fact karate-do which comprises of three Japanese words ‘kara’ which translates as empty, ‘te’ which translates as hand and ‘do’ which means the way. Therefore the word karate-do means the way of the empty hand.
This name quite aptly describes what karate-do is. It is a martial art that does not generally rely on weapons but instead utilises varies parts of the body as weapons of self-defence. Karate techniques can be broadly grouped into 4 areas – blocks, punches, strikes, and kicks.
The training is grouped into three main areas:
Kihon (basic techniques)
Kihon (基本, きほん) is a Japanese term meaning “basics” or “fundamentals”. This is where you will be taught all the basic stances, blocks, strikes, punches and kicks. You will start off with fairly simple moves, which become more and more advanced as you progress. Bear in mind the techniques taught may be alien to your body and you are asking it to do something it hasn’t done before, so be patient and persevere.
Kumite (組手) literally translated means “grappling hands” and is one of the three main sections of karate training. This is the sparring element, which comes in a number of forms from pre-arranged sets of attacks and blocks to freestyle fighting, which as the name implies allows for the use of any technique. In the early stages of your karate training you will only ever be asked to do basic sparring in controlled circumstances. Injuries are very few and far between. As confidence and ability develop so will the sparring.
Kata (pre-arranged forms)
Kata consist of a number of pre-arranged defensive and offensive movements against imaginary opponents and will form a very important part of your training. It is from the serious study of kata that you will develop the ability to defend and attack against many different attack scenarios.