Karate (空手) is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed partially from the indigenous martial arts of Ryukyu Islands called Te (手, literally "hand"; Tii in Okinawan) and from Chinese kenpo. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, palm-heel strikes, etc. In some styles, as in Wadoryu, grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital point strikes are also taught. A karate practitioner is called a karate-ka (空手家).
Karate was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom and was systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era. It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs. In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from 唐手 ("Chinese hand" or "Tang hand" verbatim, as the name of the Tang dynasty was a synonym to China in Okinawa) to 空手 ("empty hand") – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style. After the Second World War, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.
The martial arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase the popularity of martial arts around the world, and in English the word karate began to be used in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Oriental martial arts. Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art.
Karate Master, Shoshin Nagamine, said "Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one's own creative efforts." For many practitioners, karate is a deeply philosophical practice. Karate-do teaches ethical principles and can have spiritual significance to its adherents. Gichin Funakoshi ("Father of Modern Karate") titled his autobiography Karate-Do: My Way of Life in recognition of the transforming nature of karate study. Today karate is practiced for self-perfection, for cultural reasons, for self-defence and as a sport.
History Okinawa. Karate began as a common fighting system known as ‘Te’ (Okinawan: ti) among the Pechin class of the Ryukyuans. After trade relationships were established with the Ming dynasty of China by King Satto of Chūzan in 1372, some forms of Chinese martial arts were introduced to the Ryukyu Islands by the visitors from China, particularly Fujian Province. A large group of Chinese families moved to Okinawa around 1392 for the purpose of cultural exchange, where they established the community of Kumemura and shared their knowledge of a wide variety of Chinese arts and sciences, including the Chinese martial arts. The political centralization of Okinawa by King Shō Hashi in 1429 and the policy of banning weapons, enforced in Okinawa after the invasion of the Shimazu clan in 1609, are also factors that furthered the development of unarmed combat techniques in Okinawa.
There were few formal styles of te, but rather many practitioners with their own methods. One surviving example is the Motobu-ryu school passed down from the Motobu family by Seikichi Uehara. Early styles of karate are often generalised as Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomari-te, named after the three cities from which they emerged. Each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local version of te from the others.
Members of the Okinawan upper classes were sent to China regularly to study various political and practical disciplines. The incorporation of empty-handed Chinese Kung Fu into Okinawan martial arts occurred partly because of these exchanges and partly because of growing legal restrictions on the use of weaponry. Traditional karate kata bear a strong resemblance to the forms found in Fujian martial arts such as Fujian White Crane, Five Ancestors, and Gangrou-quan (Hard Soft Fist; pronounced "Gōjūken" in Japanese). Many Okinawan weapons such as the sai, tonfa, and nunchaku may have originated in and around Southeast Asia.
Sakukawa Kanga (1782–1838) had studied pugilism and staff (bo) fighting in China (according to one legend, under the guidance of Kosokun, originator of kusanku kata). In 1806 he started teaching a fighting art in the city of Shuri that he called "Tudi Sakukawa," which meant "Sakukawa of China Hand." This was the first known recorded reference to the art of "Tudi," written as 唐手. Around the 1820s Sakukawa's most significant student Matsumura Sōkon (1809–1899) taught a synthesis of te (Shuri-te and Tomari-te) and Shaolin (Chinese 少林) styles. Matsumura's style would later become the Shōrin-ryū style.
Ankō Itosu. Grandfather of Modern Karate. Matsumura taught his art to Itosu Ankō (1831–1915) among others. Itosu adapted two forms he had learned from Matsumara. These are kusanku and chiang nan. He created the ping'an forms ("pinan" in Japanese) which are simplified kata for beginning students. In 1901 Itosu helped to get karate introduced into Okinawa's public schools. These forms were taught to children at the elementary school level. Itosu's influence in karate is broad. The forms he created are common across nearly all styles of karate. His students became some of the most well-known karate masters, including Gichin Funakoshi, Kenwa Mabuni, and Motobu Chōki. Itosu is sometimes referred to as "the Grandfather of Modern Karate." In 1881 Higaonna Kanryō returned from China after years of instruction with Ryu Ryu Ko and founded what would become Naha-te. One of his students was the founder of Gojū-ryū, Chōjun Miyagi. Chōjun Miyagi taught such well-known karateka as Seko Higa (who also trained with Higaonna), Meitoku Yagi, Miyazato Ei'ichi, and Seikichi Toguchi, and for a very brief time near the end of his life, An'ichi Miyagi (a teacher claimed by Morio Higaonna).
In addition to the three early te styles of karate a fourth Okinawan influence is that of Kanbun Uechi (1877–1948). At the age of 20 he went to Fuzhou in Fujian Province, China, to escape Japanese military conscription. While there he studied under Shushiwa. He was a leading figure of Chinese Nanpa Shorin-ken style at that time. He later developed his own style of Uechi-ryū karate based on the Sanchin, Seisan, and Sanseiryu kata that he had studied in China.
Japan Masters of karate in Tokyo (picture: circa. 1930s) Kanken Toyama, Hironori Ohtsuka, Takeshi Shimoda, Gichin Funakoshi, Motobu Chōki, Kenwa Mabuni, Genwa Nakasone, and Shinken Taira (pictured from left to right). Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan karate, is generally credited with having introduced and popularised karate on the main islands of Japan. In addition many Okinawans were actively teaching, and are thus also responsible for the development of karate on the main islands. Funakoshi was a student of both Asato Ankō and Itosu Ankō (who had worked to introduce karate to the Okinawa Prefectural School System in 1902). During this time period, prominent teachers who also influenced the spread of karate in Japan included Kenwa Mabuni, Chōjun Miyagi, Motobu Chōki, Kanken Tōyama, and Kanbun Uechi. This was a turbulent period in the history of the region. It includes Japan's annexation of the Okinawan island group in 1872, the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), the annexation of Korea, and the rise of Japanese militarism (1905–1945). Japan was invading China at the time, and Funakoshi knew that the art of Tang/China hand would not be accepted; thus the change of the art's name to "way of the empty hand." The dō suffix implies that karatedō is a path to self-knowledge, not just a study of the technical aspects of fighting. Like most martial arts practiced in Japan, karate made its transition from -jutsu to -dō around the beginning of the 20th century. The "dō" in "karate-dō" sets it apart from karate-jutsu, as aikido is distinguished from aikijutsu, judo from jujutsu, kendo from kenjutsu and iaido from iaijutsu.
Gichin Funakoshi. Founder of Shotokan Karate. Funakoshi changed the names of many kata and the name of the art itself (at least on mainland Japan), doing so to get karate accepted by the Japanese budō organisation Dai Nippon Butoku Kai. Funakoshi also gave Japanese names to many of the kata. The five pinan forms became known as heian, the three naihanchi forms became known as tekki, seisan as hangetsu, Chintō as gankaku, wanshu as empi, and so on. These were mostly political changes, rather than changes to the content of the forms, although Funakoshi did introduce some such changes. Funakoshi had trained in two of the popular branches of Okinawan karate of the time, Shorin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū. In Japan he was influenced by kendo, incorporating some ideas about distancing and timing into his style. He always referred to what he taught as simply karate, but in 1936 he built a dojo in Tokyo and the style he left behind is usually called Shotokan after this dojo. The modernisation and systemisation of karate in Japan also included the adoption of the white uniform that consisted of the kimono and the dogi or keikogi—mostly called just karategi—and coloured belt ranks. Both of these innovations were originated and popularised by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo and one of the men Funakoshi consulted in his efforts to modernise karate. A new form of karate called Kyokushin was formally founded in 1957 by Masutatsu Oyama (who was born a Korean, Choi Yeong-Eui 최영의). Kyokushin is largely a synthesis of Shotokan and Gōjū-ryū. It teaches a curriculum that emphasizes aliveness, physical toughness, and full contact sparring. Because of its emphasis on physical, full-force sparring, Kyokushin is now often called "full contact karate", or "Knockdown karate" (after the name for its competition rules). Many other karate organisations and styles are descended from the Kyokushin curriculum.
Ohtsuka Hironori. Founder of Wadoryu Karate. Ohtsuka-Hironori 10th Dan Meijin (1892-1982). The founder of Wado-ryu Karate. Hironori-Ohtsuka was born in Shimodate City, Ibiragi, Japan on the 1st June 1892. He was the first son of Tokujiro-Ohtsuka, who was a doctor of medicine. 1892 was also the year that the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai was established. He started training under Chojiro-Ebashi, an uncle of his mother, in April 1897 at the age of four, a style of training he would continue with, even at Waseda University in Tokyo. In 1905 Ohtsuka Sensei entered the Shimozuma middle school, where he started Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu under Tatsusaburo-Nakayama. In 1910 Ohtsuka Sensei entered Waseda University to learn commerce. In 1917 he started work at the Kawasaki bank; at this stage he was learning numerous styles of Ju-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met, and became good friends, with the founder of Aikido, Morihei-Ueshiba. In May 1919 he became master of 'bone-setting technique'. On the 1st of July 1921 he received his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu Ju-jutsu licence from Tatsusaburo-Nakayama, and so became the Highest Authority. He started his Karate training with the famous Gichin-Funikoshi in July 1922, a style known as Karate-jutsu. Ohtsuka Sensei met Funikoshi Sensei during a martial-arts demonstration at the Sports Festival organised by the Japanese Educational Department. Funikoshi Sensei agreed to teach Ohtsuka Sensei all he knew about Okinawan Karate-jutsu, the lessons started that same day. Within one year Ohtsuka Sensei had studied all the Kata within the system. Even after this time Ohtsuka Sensei could see the 'shortfall' in the Kata-only system. It was explained to him that all of the concepts of 'Budo' was within Kata, and that was the only aspect to train. In 1924 Ohtsuka Sensei introduced Yakusoku-gumite to the system, this concept of 'partner-work' revolutionised Karate-jutsu. At the time, Okinawan karate only concentrated on Kata. In 1928 he was 'Shindo-Yoshin-ryu-Shihan', the Chief Instructor of his Shindo-Yoshin-ryu; he also set up a 'bone-setting' practice at this time. Around 1929 Ohtsuka Sensei started the study of Jiyu-Gumite (free fighting) for competitive purposes, teaching Ippon/Ohyo (one-step) and Sanbon (three-step) Gumite (sparring); laying the foundation for modern free style karate kumite tournaments. He also developed Idori-no-kata, Tachiai-no-kata, and Shirahatori-no-kata. In 1929 he registered with the 'Nippon-Kobudo-Shinko-Kai', the Japanese Martial-arts Federation. In 1934 Ohtsuka Sensei was recognised as an independent style, and started teaching full-time. Due to his dedication to Karate he had to close his 'bone-setting' business. In 1938 Ohtsuka Sensei registered his new style as Shin-Shu-Wado-ryu. In 1939 all Karate styles were asked to register their systems with the 'Dai-Nippon-Butoku-Kai', Ohtsuka Sensei named his style Wado-ryu. Other styles that registered were Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Shoto-ryu (Shotokan-ryu). In 1940 on May the 5th the 'All Styles Karate Demonstrations' took place at Butoku-Den in Kyoto. All the major styles took part, these included Goju-ryu, Keishi-Kempo, Nippon-Kempo-ryu, Shito-ryu, Shoto-ryu, and Wado-ryu. In 1944 Ohtsuka Sensei was promoted to Chief Instructor of all Karate under the Dai-Nippon-Butoku-kai. In 1945 the Americans, at the end of the Second World War, disbanded all martial-arts. In 1951 all martial-arts were reinstated, after the signing of the American peace treaty with Japan. In 1955 the first Karate tournament took place, organised by Ohtsuka Sensei, it was called the 'First All Japan Wado-ryu Karate Championships'. In 1964 'The All Japan Karate-do Federation' (JKF) was established. This same year Tatsuo-Suzuki Sensei, Toru-Arakawa Sensei, and Hajime-Takashima Sensei introduced Wado-ryu to Great Britain, Europe, and the United States of America. In 1966 Ohtsuka Sensei was awarded 'Kun-Goto-Soukuo-Kyo-Kuju-jutsu-Sho' (similar to the O.B.E. in Great Britain) from Emperor Hirohito for his dedication to Karate. In 1972 he was awarded the title of Meijin from Higashino-Kunino-Miya (a member of the Japanese royal family) President of the International Martial-arts Federation the 'Kokusai-Budo-Renmei'. Ohtsuka Sensei was the first man in history to receive this, the highest honour in martial-arts. For his services to Martial-arts, and to honour his new position as the highest Karate Authority in Japan, he was awarded the Shiju-Hoosho medal from the Japanese Government, the only man in the history of Karate to be so honoured. On the 29th of January 1982 Ohtsuka-Hironori Meijin died at the age 89, he had practised martial-arts for 85 years. "Buno-michi-wa Tada-aragoto-na-to-omohiso Wa-no-michi-kiwa-me Wa-o-motomu-michi: The way to practise martial-arts is not for fighting. Always look for your own inner peace and harmony, search for it." Ohtsuka-Hironori.
Practice. Karate can be practiced as an art (bu-dō), as a sport, as a combat sport, or as self defence training. Traditional karate places emphasis on self-development (dō). Modern Japanese style training emphasises the psychological elements incorporated into a proper kokoro (attitude) such as perseverance, fearlessness, virtue, and leadership skills. Sport karate places emphasis on exercise and competition. Weapons is important training activity in some styles of karate.
Karate training is commonly divided into kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
Kihon. Karate styles place varying importance on kihon. Typically this is performance in unison of a technique or a combination of techniques by a group of karateka. Kihon may also be prearranged drills in smaller groups or in pairs.
Kata. In Wado-ryu, the Kanji use for ‘KATA’ is 形 but the other styles of Karate are using the other Kanji 型. The first Grand Master, Hironori Ohtsuka Meijin, made this choice. These two characters of Kanji are read as 'KATA'. However, the second character is also read as ‘I-GATA’ 型, which can be translated as 'Mold'. The standardised ‘forms’ made from the I-GATA are all the same, they’re not transformable. Martial arts practise must never become ‘I-GATA’; it must always be 'KATA'. 形 The first character of ‘KATA’ 形 does not imply ‘I-GATA’ and it can be translated as a transformable shape. ‘KATA’ is expressive; as a mirror is, it changes with every action and situation. A mirror figure changes just as its reflection does. ‘I-GATA’ is dead? It does not have an identity; ‘KATA’ is alive. The dead ‘I-gata’ is utilisable for only one purpose. Because kata is alive, it can be utilised for many situations. Thus, when using the kata of martial arts, one must use it in accordance to the meaning and objective it has, or else it becomes useless. To use a kata that is alive is difficult, but it is important in all martial arts training, while it is utilisable in the area of arts especially for one concerned with professionalism. A kata that is alive itself is invisible, but the progress to achieve that stage of aliveness gives the kata a spirit. Each movement in a kata was made to be practiced without an opponent. When practicing, it is important to imagine opponents all around you in all directions and remember the objective, the application and the usage of that particular movement. The best method of practicing ‘KATA’ is repetition. Although, after a period of time, one begins to better understand the procedure of one movement incorporating into the next movement. Of course, in some kata, a continuous combination may exist but one must not think about what comes before or after. While performing kata and following the order of the movement, one has to keep in mind to be ready for a sudden attack coming from any direction.
Each and every one of the movements put together makes a kata. Therefore to perform each movement properly, one must practice kata until being able to spontaneously move.
Ohtsuka Meijin elected 9 different kata in the Wado-Ryu system, which are; Pinan Nidan, Pinan Shodan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan, Pinan Godan, Ku Shanku, Naihanchi, Seishan, Chinto. However, later, Kihon Kata, Bassai, Wanshu, Niseishi, Rohai, Ji’tte, Ji’han were also introduced, although he felt the most important kata to practice are only the first 9 kata from Pinan to Chinto. He properly taught only the 9 kata to the Wado-ryu disciples, because the same movements are already included in the other 6 kata. His idea was that, how many kata one memorises is of no importance if one cannot apply the correct technique, it is a waste of time and stamina.
Kata can be translated as 'Form', 'position', 'single'. Encompasses many interpretations, depending on the written Kanji, including 'rigid-form', and/or 'flexible-form'. Generally refers to the 'Formal exercises' practised within Japanese martial-arts. The nearest English word for kata is 'form'. The Kanji meaning for Kata is made up of three simple characters. The one in the upper left means 'Shape’. The one on the upper right means 'Cut'. The one on the bottom means 'Ground'. So therefore a Kata is a shape that cuts the ground. The kata is an artistic presentation in which all movement is defence and counter attack, and put together in a refined manner with no wasted effort. It is a sequence of movements, which are both defensive and attacking, performed as a result of several attackers. Kata is a Japanese term meaning mould, model, style, shape, form, or data-type. A karate kata is a set number of basic techniques arranged in order. Each kata has its own character. Some kata have a very heavy, solid, and robust feeling to them. While performing them you can imagine that you are ploughing through the enemy like a bull that cannot be stopped. Other kata have a quick, light feeling to them and require acrobatics. When performing these kata you can imagine yourself moving about from enemy to enemy so quickly that you never even get a good look at whom you are fighting. Some are more graceful and flowing in nature, and others are performed very slowly with great muscle tension. Each and every technique is executed as if it were the only technique to be performed and maximised to its fullest. Rather, it is the shape of the techniques, the speed at which they are performed, and the rhythm of the kata itself that lends it character. Interpretations of each Kata would reflect on the concepts of the written (kanji) form. Basically a Kata is a set of prearranged fighting techniques put into a set, pattern or form.
Karate Kata can be split into three schools: SHURI-TE: Pinan (Heian) Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yodan, Godan. Naihanchi (Tekki) Shodan, Nidan, Sandan. Bassai (Passai) Dai, Sho. Ku-Shanku (Kanku) Dai, Sho, Shiho-Ku-Shanku. Ji'tte (Jutte). Ji'in. Ji'han (Jion). Gojushi-ho Dai, Sho. NAHA-TE: Sanchin. Tensho. Gekisai-Dai-ichi, Gekisai-Dai-ni. Saifa (Sai-hawah). Seisan. Seipai. Sanseiru. Shisochin. Kururunfa (Kururun-hawah). Seienchin. Suparinpei. TOMARI-TE: Chinto (Gankaku). Rohai (Meikyo). Wanshu (Enpi, Empi). Wankan (Matsukaze). Others; Niseishi (Nijushi-ho). Sochin. Ananku. Unsu. Seishan (Hangetsu). The above-mentioned Kata have some variations. For example, Passai (Bassai) Kata has not only Dai and Sho, but also Matsumura no Passai (Passai of Matsumura), Tomari no Passai and Ishimine no Passai. In Uechiryu, although a Naha-te style, they developed a different series of Kata. These include Sanchin, Kanshiwa, Seishan, Seirui, and Konchin. Karate Kata which possess numbers as names are considered originally of Chinese and/or Buddhist origin, and passed into the Okinawan-te systems during the 1800's. The numbers have been referred to as many interpretations and factors in modern martial-arts, either as the amount of steps, techniques etc. However, it is my personal belief that they have their history within the original teachings of acupoint striking within the Kata. For example, there are considered 36 'killing' points on the human body (Sanseiru). From personal research I have found that many of the 'numeric' Kata have their foundations within the original Chinese acupoint striking system practised in the mid 1500's. It was considered the original method of 'numeric strike-point' combat was created by the Chinese Shaolin martial-artist Feng-Yiquan at that time. Other Chinese martial-artists who studied this form of combat included the famous Xie-Zhongxiang. These 'numeric' Kata also include; Suparinpei (108), Gojushi-ho (54), Sanshiru (36), Nipaipo (28), Niseishi/Nijushi-ho (24), Seipai (18), Seishan/Seisan (13), etc., all, I believe, linked to the acupoint science. In Buddhism, however, numbers hold great symbolic importance, specifically referring to the 108 desires of man. This is very interesting as many of the Kata hold factors of 108, as: Suparinpei (108), Gojushi-ho (54), Sanseiru (36), Seipai (18), etc. Karate Kata lineage can be based on the following: Aragaki; Ni-sei-shi, Sochin, Unsu. Chatanyara; Ku-Shanku. Gokenki; Hakucho, Nipaipo, Papuren. Higaonna; Kururunfa, Saifa, Sanchin, Sanseru, Seienchin, Seipai, Seishan, Shisochin, Suparinpei. Ishimine; Bassai. Itosu; Pinan Shodan, Pinan Nidan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan, Pinan Godan, Bassai-dai, Bassai-sho, Chintei, Chinto, Gojushi-ho, Ji'tte, Ji'han, Ji'in, Kosokun-dai, Kosokun-sho, Naifuanchin Shodan, Naifuanchin Nidan, Naifuanchin Sandan, Rohai Shodan, Rohai Nidan, Rohai Sandan, Shiho-Kosokun. Mabuni Kenwa; Aoyagi, Juroku, Miyojo. Matsubayashi; Annanko. Matsumura; Bassai, Seishan, Rohai. Matsumora; Rohai, Wankan (Matsukaze), Wanshu. Miyagi; Gekisai-ichi, Gekisai-ni, Tensho. Mabuni/Ueichi; Shinpa.
A further note regarding 'numeric' Kata. All of the Kata that are named with numbers, for example; Niseishi (24), Seis(h)an (13) and Kata from other styles; Sanshiru (36), Suparinpei (108), Nipaipo (28), Seipai (18), Gojushiho (54) etc., were practiced in China and passed to Okinawa in the 19th century and earlier. However, historians debate the significance of numbers as Kata names. There are several theories, the simplest being that the number was the number of movements in the Kata when it was created. However, in ancient China, a charting system was created numbering the vital points on the human body and sets of movements were created to attack these points. As with most cultural phenomenon in China, there is a definite Buddhist influence on some Kata names. In Buddhism, the number 108 has great significance, specifically referring to the 108 defilements. This is reflected with the Kata as many of the Kata names are factors of 108, i.e. Gojushiho (54), Sanshiru (36), Seipai (18). Please remember that in many cases, kanji representations of Kata names are often very recent. Many Kata names were unwritten until late in the last century. Prior to this, Kata names were often passed through oral tradition alone. When karate-ka wanted to write the kanji down, it may have been the case that the writer didn't know the meaning, and used kanji that he thought represented the Kata in some sensible way (phonetic sound of the Kata name is an obvious possibility), it may not be the original name at all. Because of this, there can sometimes be different kanji for the same Kata, or incorrect kanji altogether.
MAIN FEATURES OF KATA 1. Good for all ages. 2. Builds the body and helps the practice of self defence in areas such as speed, focus, awareness, mental concentration, spirit, strength, and stamina, etc. A kata may be regarded as an integration of offensive and defensive techniques, but it is more than that. One should try to understand the spirit of the master karate-ka who created the kata, for it has a life of its own and requires many years to be mastered. Due to changes, which may have taken place within the kata over many years, in technique etc., the underlying spirit (even though their general layout has not changed considerably), the technical rhythm and speed may have been modified.
Kata No Rokugensoku (Six Principles of Kata). 1. Ikita-kata - Performing a Kata as a real fight. Kata must be alive and done with feeling and purpose. 2. Inen - Performing a Kata with real fighting spirit. 3. Chikara-no-kyojaku - Variation in hard and soft technique. Kata should be done with changes in application of power. Technique can be strong or yielding, hard then soft. 4. Waza-no-kankyu - Variation in quick and slow movement. Kata should be done with variations in the timing of movement, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. 5. Ki-soko-no-donto - Controlling breathing. Kata must be done with proper rhythm of breathing, when to inhale and exhale. 6. Kinto - Balance. Proper balance must be maintained in the performance of Kata. Other than in other styles of karate, Wado-ryu doesn't emphasise on one specific meaning of kata technique. Movement as used in fighting has more attention, with that it is keeping kata alive, keeping an open mind of what certain techniques in kata mean and how the 'kata' fight is developing.
Of course it is necessary to keep Seichusen and Enbusen together. Enbusen means literally performance line; enbu means performance, sen is line. So simply the line a person follows as he performs the kata. Seichusen is a concept that is fundamental to Wado. Seichusen: Sei; correct/true, Chu; centre, Sen; line 'true centre line'. This is the imaginary line that the attacker's punch or kick will follow as it goes towards the opponent. Conversely, this is the line that the defender must defend against because the attack is coming at him through this line. As long as you guard your seichusen you will not be vulnerable to the attack.
In a living kata seichusen and enbusen are one. As you move along the enbusen you defend and attack through the seichusen. When you perform Kata, your seichusen must be as narrow as feasible. When you perform your kata, your movements must not be telegraphed, your body must move as one (I-Chosu), without leaving parts behind (when you go, you just go) and when your body settles at the end of a movement, it never gets into a position where your centre of gravity forces you to be stuck to the floor (I-Tsuki). All this makes for a living kata, Ikita-Gata.
As previously stated, Master Ohtsuka limited the curriculum to nine kata, which are, in practising order: Pinan Nidan, Pinan Shodan, Pinan Sandan, Pinan Yodan, Pinan Godan, Ku-Shanku, Naihanchi, (Naifanchi), Seishan, and Chinto. We see that the five Pinan Kata promote into Ku-Shanku, and that Naihanchi with Seishan and into Chinto. The additional kata practised are: Bassai, Wanshu, Niseishi, Rohai, Ji'tte, Ji'han, Ji’in and also Suparimpei. NB: The Wado Suparimpei’s development suggests a ‘natural’ progression from Seishan and Chinto, especially with; ashi-koshi-te, koshi-te-ashi, koshi-ashi-te, te-koshi-ashi and of course koshi-ashi-no-te.
To attain a formal rank the karateka must demonstrate competent performance of specific required kata for that level. The Japanese terminology for grades or ranks is commonly used. Requirements for examinations vary among schools.
Kumite. Sparring in Karate is called kumite (組手:くみて). It literally means "meeting of hands." Kumite is practiced both as a sport and as self-defense training. Levels of physical contact during sparring vary considerably. Full contact karate has several variants. Knockdown karate (such as Kyokushin) uses full power techniques to bring an opponent to the ground. Other variants the preferred win is by knockout. Sparring in armour (bogu kumite) allows full power techniques with some safety. Sport kumite in many international competitions is free or structured with light contact or semi contact and points are awarded by a referee.
In structured kumite (Yakusoku – prearranged), two participants perform a choreographed series of techniques with one striking while the other blocks. The form ends with one devastating technique (Hito Tsuki).
In free sparring (Jiyu Kumite), the two participants have a free choice of scoring techniques. The allowed techniques and contact level are primarily determined by sport or style organization policy, but might be modified according to the age, rank and sex of the participants. Depending upon style, take-downs, sweeps and in some rare cases even time-limited grappling on the ground are also allowed.
Free sparring is performed in a marked or closed area. A bout usually runs for a fixed time (2 to 3 minutes). The time can run continuously (Iri Kume) or be stopped for referee judgment. In light contact or semi contact kumite, points are awarded based on the criteria: good form, sporting attitude, vigorous application, awareness/zanshin, good timing and correct distance. In full contact karate kumite, points are based on the results of the impact, rather than the formal appearance of the scoring technique.
Dojo Kun. In the bushidō tradition dojo kun is a set of guidelines for karateka to follow. These guidelines apply both in the dojo (training hall) and in everyday life.
Conditioning Okinawan karate uses supplementary training known as hojo undo. This utilises simple equipment made of wood and stone. The makiwara is a striking post. Other training aids consist of striking-pad and bag-work. The nigiri game is a large jar used for developing grip strength. These supplementary exercises are designed to increase strength, stamina, speed, and muscle coordination. Sport Karate emphasises aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, power, agility, flexibility, and stress management. All practices vary depending upon the school and the teacher.
Sport. Gichin Funakoshi (船越 義珍) said, "There are no contests in karate." In pre–World War II Okinawa, kumite (fighting practises) was not part of karate training. Shigeru Egami relates that, in 1940, some karateka were ousted from their dojo because they adopted sparring after having learned it in Tokyo.
Karate is divided into style organisations. These organizations sometimes cooperate in non-style specific sport karate organisations or federations. Examples of sport organisations are WUKO, AAKF/ITKF, AOK, TKL, AKA, WKF, NWUKO, WUKF, WKC, etc. Organisations hold competitions (tournaments) from local to international level. Tournaments are designed to match members against one another in kata, sparring and weapons demonstration. They are often separated by age, rank and sex with potentially different rules or standards based on these factors. The tournament may be exclusively for members of a particular style (closed) or one in which any martial artist from any style may participate within the rules of the tournament (open).
Karate competition has two disciplines: sparring (kumite) and forms (kata). Competitors may enter either as individuals or as part of a team. Evaluation for kata and kobudō is performed by a panel of judges, whereas sparring is judged by a head referee, usually with assistant referees at the side of the sparring area. Sparring matches are typically divided by weight, age, gender, and experience.
Karate Politics: The WKF only allows membership through one national organisation/federation per country to which clubs may join. However, the World Union of Karate-do Federations (WUKF) offers different styles and federations a world body they may join, without having to compromise their style or size. The WUKF accepts more than one federation or association per country.
Sport organisations use different competition rule systems. Light contact rules are used by the WUKO, IASK, WKF and WKC. Full contact karate rules used by Kyokushinkai, Seidokaikan and other organisations. Bogu kumite (full contact with protective shielding of targets) rules are used in the World Koshiki Karate-Do Federation organisation.
Rank. Karateka wearing different coloured belts. In 1924 Gichin Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan Karate, adopted the Dan system from the Judo founder, Jigoro Kano, using a rank scheme with a limited set of belt colours. Other Okinawan teachers also adopted this practice. In the Kyū/Dan system the beginner grades start with a higher numbered kyū (e.g., 10th Kyū or Jukyū) and progress toward a lower numbered kyū. The Dan progression continues from 1st Dan (Shodan, or 'beginning dan') to the higher Dan grades. Kyū-grade karateka are referred to as "colour belt" or Mudansha ("ones without dan/rank"). Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha (holders of Dan/rank). Yudansha typically wear a black belt. Requirements of rank differ among styles, organisations, and schools. Kyū ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination. Speed and power are added at higher grades.
A young student graduates up a rank in belt in front of his dojo. Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting promotion. Testing consists of demonstration of techniques before a panel of examiners. This will vary by school, but testing may include everything learned at that point, or just new information. The demonstration is an application for new rank (shinsa) and may include kata, fighting sequences, self-defence, routines, tameshiwari (breaking), and/or kumite (sparring).
Dishonest practice Due to the popularity of martial arts, both in mass media and reality, a large number of disreputable, fraudulent, or misguided teachers and schools have arisen, approximately over the last 40 years. Commonly referred to as a "McDojo", "Belt Factory", or a "Black Belt Mill," these schools are commonly headed by martial artists of either dubious skill or business ethics.
Philosophy Gichin Funakoshi interpreted the "kara" of Karate-dō to mean "to purge oneself of selfish and evil thoughts. For only with a clear mind and conscience can the practitioner understand the knowledge which he receives." Funakoshi believed that one should be "inwardly humble and outwardly gentle." Only by behaving humbly can one be open to Karate's many lessons. This is done by listening and being receptive to criticism. He considered courtesy of prime importance. He said that "Karate is properly applied only in those rare situations in which one really must either down another or be downed by him." Funakoshi did not consider it unusual for a devotee to use Karate in a real physical confrontation no more than perhaps once in a lifetime. He stated that Karate practitioners must "never be easily drawn into a fight." It is understood that one blow from a real expert could mean death. It is clear that those who misuse what they have learned bring dishonour upon themselves. He promoted the character trait of personal conviction. In "time of grave public crisis, one must have the courage ... to face a million and one opponents." He taught that indecisiveness is a weakness.
Etymology Karate was originally written as "Chinese hand" (唐手 literally "Tang Dynasty Hand") in kanji. It was later changed to a homophone meaning empty hand (空手). The original use of the word "karate" in print is attributed to Ankō Itosu; he wrote it as "唐手". The Tang Dynasty of China ended in AD 907, but the kanji representing it remains in use in Japanese language referring to China generally, in such words as "唐人街" meaning Chinatown. Thus the word "karate" was originally a way of expressing "martial art from China."
Since there are no written records it is not known definitely whether the kara in karate was originally written with the character 唐 meaning China or the character 空 meaning empty. During the time when admiration for China and things Chinese was at its height in the Ryūkyūs it was the custom to use the former character when referring to things of fine quality. Influenced by this practice, in recent times karate has begun to be written with the character 唐 to give it a sense of class or elegance. The first documented use of a homophone of the logogram pronounced kara by replacing the Chinese character meaning "Tang Dynasty" with the character meaning "empty" took place in Karate Kumite written in August 1905 by Chōmo Hanashiro (1869–1945). Sino-Japanese relations have never been very good, and especially at the time of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, referring to the Chinese origins of karate was considered ‘politically incorrect’.
In 1933, the Okinawan art of karate was recognised as a Japanese martial art by the Japanese Martial Arts Committee known as the "Butoku Kai". Until 1935, "karate" was written as "唐手" (Chinese hand). But in 1935, the masters of the various styles of Okinawan karate conferred to decide a new name for their art. They decided to call their art "karate" written in Japanese characters as "空手" (empty hand). Another nominal development is the addition of dō (道:どう) to the end of the word karate. Dō is a suffix having numerous meanings including road, path, route, and way. It is used in many martial arts that survived Japan's transition from feudal culture to modern times. It implies that these arts are not just fighting systems but contain spiritual elements when promoted as disciplines. In this context dō is usually translated as "the way of ___". Examples include aikido, judo, kyudo, and kendo. Thus karatedō is more than just empty hand techniques. It is "The Way of the Empty Hand".
Some of the information contained within this article has been sourced from Wikipedia.