(Japanese: "way of the empty hand"), unarmed-combat system employing kicking, striking,
and defensive blocking with arms and legs. Emphasis is on concentration of
as much of the body's power as possible at the point and instant of impact.
Striking surfaces include the hands (particularly the knuckles and the outer
edge), the ball of the foot, heel, forearm, knee, and elbow. All are toughened
by practice blows against padded surfaces or wood. Pine boards up to several
inches in thickness can be broken by the bare hand or foot of an expert. Timing,
tactics, and spirit, however, are each considered at least as important as
In sporting karate and sparring (kumite) in training,
blows and kicks are stopped short, preferably within an inch of contact. Sporting
matches commonly last only three minutes, to a decision, if neither contestant
has scored a clean "killing" point in the estimation of the judges.
of form (kata) are also held, in which single competitors perform predetermined
series of movements simulating defense and counterattack against several opponents.
Performances are scored by a panel of judges, as in gymnastics.
in the Orient over a period of centuries, becoming systematized in Okinawa
in the 17th century, probably by people forbidden to carry weapons. It was
imported into Japan in the 1920s. Several schools and systems developed, each
favouring somewhat different techniques and training methods.
other Oriental fighting disciplines, stresses mental attitude, rituals of
courtesy, costumes, and a complex ranking system (by colour of belt). There
is some overlapping of technique with other fighting styles.
Get Karate Uniforms and Gear Here