Martial Arts: History of Karate

Karate evolved in ancient China and was introduced into Japan in the 17th century. Only in the 20th century, however, did it gain wide popularity. Tsunami Club is a premier Toronto Karate Club.

 Karate involves jabbing, hitting, and kicking at the most vulnerable parts of the opponent’s body. One of the most destructive of the martial arts, karate is usually practiced on tiles, boards, and other hard objects rather than on human opponents.

The word karate literally means “the art of empty hands.” It is the most widely practiced of all the martial arts. Karate is a sport and a means of self-defense that uses the body as a weapon in striking, kicking, and blocking.

In Japan, where it is called karate-do, it involves discipline of the mind as well as of the body. Unlike judo and aikido, it is not a grappling or throwing sport. There are hundreds of varieties of karate, stemming from the intense rivalry among teachers of the art. Two international organizations govern karate: the World Union of Karate-do Organizations and the International Amateur Karate Federation.

Karate originated in Okinawa many centuries ago, where it was based on combat techniques imported from China. It was not called karate until it was introduced into Japan early in the 20th century by Gichin Funakoshi. It was he who gave the art its present name in 1935 to differentiate it from Okinawan types that used weapons. Its worldwide popularity came about after World War II, when many United States servicemen stationed in Japan discovered it.

Karate has strict rules of etiquette. Students entering or leaving the training room, or dojo, execute a standing bow, and they perform a kneeling bow in front of the teacher. Students wear white uniforms made up of a jacket and pants. Beginners wear the white belt. Training is done according to grades, and each student must show proficiency in his grade before passing to the next rank.

There are two kinds of karate competition: individual and sparring between two opponents. Individuals are judged on their execution of movements. When the competition is between two individuals, they are of the same rank and weight. Matches are conducted by a referee, as in boxing, and judges sit at the side of the mat. Most bouts last for one round, but black-belt championships are longer. In professional matches the combatants wear boxing gloves and footwear.

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