What is Karate?

In one sentence: Karate is a system of unarmed, personal self-defense of Okinawan origin.

The karate system consists of elements forming a balanced, organized, effective and unified whole. It is preparation for harsh possibilities.

Karate utilizes no weapons, armor, or mounts. Karate emphasizes the imaginative use of the unaided human body. This includes punching, kicking, striking, shifting, blocking, and controlling techniques.

Karate is personal self-defense, not mass combat or a planned attack. Mass combat is military, not martial. A planned attack is usually not self-defense.

It is important to say that karate is of Okinawan origin to distinguish it from the multitude of systems of unarmed personal self-defense. There are styles similar to karate: some existed before, some are derivatives, and some share a common origin.

Of course, any art is influenced by history, culture, politics, economics, and, especially, the individual practitioner.


Diagram about categorizing Martial Arts


I retired from Shotokan Karate in 1999 after 13 years of very hard training & teaching, usually 6 days a week, often several times a day. I had taken First place in the national collegiate tournament, I was as a seasoned 3rd dan (ready to test for 4th), and I was the head instructor at the now defunct Karate Club at 1470 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, IL 60614, KarateClub.org.

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