An insight into traditional Karate by Divya Venkateswaran

Martial Arts, originated chiefly in Japan, Korea, and China as forms of self-defense or attack such as Judo, Karate, and Kendo. There are several forms of martial arts like Jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, Aikido, Krav Maga, Hapkido to name a few, but the most popular are Karate, Judo, and Taekwondo. Today I am exploring Karate as a martial art.

The word Karate means empty-handed fight. Very little is known about the origins of Karate, but theory states that it originated in Okinawa, and it spread across Japan and China. Karate is predominantly a striking art using punching, kicking, elbow strikes and open hand techniques. A karate practitioner is called a Karateka. Karate can be practiced as an art, for self-defense or as a combat sport. There are different styles of Karate and this is devised by the age-old masters of this martial art. Shotokan, Meibukan and Goju-Ryu are the most popular styles followed across the world.

Karate training is mainly categorized into Kihon, Kata and Kumite.

Kihon – Kihon is the base for everything in the style of Karate. It includes stances, strikes, punches, kicks and blocks. It is commonly known in English as standing basics and training of techniques.

Kata – Kata, literally means shape or a model. It is a formalized sequence of movements which represents offensive and defensive postures. The application, when applied in a demonstration, is referred to as Bunkai

Kumite – Sparring in Karate is called Kumite and it literally means ‘meeting of hands.’ Kumite is practiced both as a sport and as self-defense training.

Grading System - Every style of karate follows a different grading system. The basic colour belt is white and as a karateka progresses the belt colour changes to Yellow, Orange, Green, Brown, and Black. Black belt with degree 10 is the highest rank in most of the styles of Karate.

A senior with a Black belt is called Kurobi Senpai. A senior with a Black belt degree 2 is called a Shandai, the one with Black belt degree 3 onwards is known as the Sensei. The Karateka with the highest degree in a Black belt is known as the Grandmaster.

Karate is not only a sport but nowadays it is hugely used for self-defense. It is also followed by many who want to lose weight and combat health issues. It is necessary to know the history of the sport or the form and style of karate which a person practices, without which the essence of the art fades away.  

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