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A Brief History of Karate

May 30, 2008
There is some debate as to the origins of karate. Many people claim that the history of the martial art can be traced to the founder of Zen Buddhism, Daruma who emphasized the physical as well as the mental aspects of this intense fighting style. Others argue that karate as a martial art originated in the islands of Okinawa, as the martial art form Okinawa-te, or Okinawa hand. Before its incorporation into the country of Japan, Okinawa was an independent kingdom, influenced by the Chinese and other neighboring cultures. This Chinese cultural influence enabled the martial art form of Okinawa-te to develop into three distinct styles, Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Tomar-te. Overtime, Okinawa-te began to resemble the Chinese martial art form of karate.

Whatever its origins, historians agree that the art of karate was taught in secret, and practiced primarily by members of the upper classes and the nobility, which is the primary reason why there is some debate as to its exact origins.

The modern form of karate, particularly, the development of the modern Japanese fighting style s credited to Gichin Funakoshi, who built his first dojo, or karate training center in Tokyo in 1936. When the Japanese Karate Association was founded in 1948, Funakoshi served as the first Chief Instructor. The style of karate that he developed and perfected, Shokotan, is the most widely practiced style of karate the world over. Practitioners of this martial art are known as karateka.

Students are taught the basic techniques: uchi (striking) keri (kicking) Tsuki (punching) as well as the basic principles of the martial art. Form is particularly important to master, since a tremendous amount of balance is required for both offensive and defensive moves. The ability to focus and concentrate power to a specific part of the body, i.e. the arms or legs for a punch or kick is an important skill that karatekas are constantly working to improve upon.

Karate is a sport that is popular the world over, among all ages and with people from all walks of life. The physical and mental discipline emphasized by this martial art, and the competitive nature of karate are just some of the reasons why so many choose to become karatekas. If you are interested in taking lessons, the good news is that it is never to late to start, and the Internet is your best resource for locating the dojo near you, and purchasing all of the karate equipment that you need to get started.
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