Karate can be translated as ‘the way of the empty hand’ or a weaponless means of self-defence. The word Karate is formed from kara (meaning empty) and te (meaning hand). It is a traditional system of self defence that employs the use of hands, feet, knees and elbows as striking weapons, which are also used for blocking attacks. It is an art that relies on physical coordination in the mechanics of the human body.
As well as the development of physical skill, the aim of karate is also to develop character and mental discipline.
Okinawa which is a small island located between China and Japan were trading with China and other nations, and as result became a flourishing kingdom, however, they were vulnerable to attacks from other nations. The people of Okinawa began to carry weapons for their protection at that time. Due to increased violence, a ban was placed on the island to carry weapons. The people of Okinawa sought an alternative way to protect themselves, family and possessions and therefore began the introduction of weaponless martial arts.
“There is no first attack in Karate” - Master Funakoshi
Karate is the most widely practiced martial art of today and amongst six main styles of karate Shotokan is arguably the most widely practiced in the world. It was founded by Gichin Funakoshi (pictured above) who was born in Okinawa. He introduced karate into the public school system of Okinawa. He later had the opportunity in the early 1920s to be a part of a martial arts demonstration in Tokyo, Japan and therefore introduced Okinawan karate. He made a large impact in Japan and opened his first dojo called “Shotokan” meaning “the house of shoto”. Shoto meant “waving pines” which was the name of Funakoshi’s pen which he used to write poetry.
“Karate-do is like technology, so constant research, asking questions, thinking and applying one’s mind is the key to success and fulfillment.- Hitoshi Kasuya
Hitoshi Kasuya Sensei is the chief instructor of the World Shotokan Karate-Do Federation (WSKF) which was formed in 1990. Known as one of world’s leading Shotokan instructors, Hitoshi Kasuya Sensei has always emphasised technique as being the most important goal in Karate, which should always be performed as effective as possible with a realistic function