The word ‘karate’ means ’empty hand’. As the name suggests it is a fighting art using no weapons.
The origins of this art can be traced as far back as between the year 502 and 550 as it is said that the Indian monk Bodhidharma taught physical exercises with breathing techniques to his disciples in order to maintain their strength and well-being during their many years of meditation. The monks of the Shaolin Temple combined these exercise techniques with various forms of Chinese boxing which then became the basis of many martial arts.
These arts were practised by the people of a small island situated south of Japan called Okinawa. Okinawa was invaded by the Japanese in the 17th century and all fighting weapons prohibited and confiscated. This encouraged the Okinawans to adapt and refine a fighting system of ’empty hand’ techniques influenced by their knowledge of the Chinese martial arts. This system of training was given a name – Karate.
Modern karate in the form that we recognise today was demonstrated to the Japanese Ministers of National Education in 1922 by Master Gichin Funakoshi from Okinawa. The demonstration was a great success and the Keio University later founded Japan’s first Karate Dojo. By this time karate had become a well-structured teaching system of unarmed combat. Karate has different styles due to different teaching principles and influences of other martial arts on the founders and masters.
Today, the four main traditional styles recognised by the World Karate Federation are Wado-Ryu, Shotokan, Gojo-Ryu and Shito-Ryu
The benefits of Karate
Karate improves general well-being and vitality whilst encouraging assertiveness and self-confidence.
Karate helps to prevent being bullied or becoming a bully.
Karate is a good cardiovascular workout and provides excellent cross training for a variety of sports.
Karate promotes self-discipline and respect to others.
Karate is an effective martial art for self-defence and an exciting dynamic sport.
Karate improves muscle strength and speed enabling you to react faster in life threatening situations.
Karate requires mental activation and therefore helps to improve focus and concentration.
Karate encourages perfect posture as it relies on the core stabilisation and hence strong abdominal muscles.
Karate is a fun and healthy activity for the whole family.