The full name of karate “karate-do” means Way of the empty hand. The word “Empty”, however, symbolizes not only combat without weapons, but also an interconnection with Zen Buddhist philosophy “to become empty”. The word “Way” symbolizes a neverending process of learning and self-improvement. Karate was developed among the inhabitants of Okinawa through a gradual and long process based on influences of Chinese martial arts. The island’s population was constantly troubled by foreign domination, the knowledge of self-defense techniques was thus a matter of life and death. Such a state of affairs gave rise to numerous styles of karate serving as self-defense systems. However, they were practiced in a strict secrecy over centuries. The individual styles of karate were later developed into today’s most widespread styles such as An important figure for the formation of karate was GICHIN FUNAKOSHI who introduced karate from Okinawa to Japan in the 1920s. He is the founder of the
Shotokan style. Karate is a martial art that employs punches and kicks. Their correct execution requires a proper level of flexibility, balance, speed and precision. An old, traditional, shape of karate
is somewhat different from the sport-karate. If a karate practitioner
encountered an armed adversary in the past, he had to get by with only his
body using his arms and legs. That is the reason why attacks and blocks in karate are executed with many different striking surfaces which make techniques
more variable. In order for a practitioner to have had these striking surfaces fight-ready, it was necessary to harden them while developing functional strength. Many different traditional aids were used for this purpose, some of which can be encountered even in modern gyms. Makiwara, a wooden plank set in the
ground wrapped in a rope, was used for punching and kicking in order to strengthen the wrist for punches. Such an exercise provided the karate practitioner with sufficiently strong and durable striking surfaces, so he could eliminate an opponent with a single strike. The traditional karate uniform is called “GI” and consists of trousers and a
blouse banded with a belt, the color of which indicates the technical level of the practitioner. The colored belts indicate the pupils grade, while a black belt indicates a master’s grade. Karate training is divided into three
basic groups: KIHON is a basic didactic method in karate and focuses on training individual techniques or their combinations. Techniques can be performed
on the spot or in motion. While practicing combinations the practitioner improves their ability to creatively link the techniques together. KATA is a formalized sequence of combat techniques, simulating the fight against several
imaginary rivals. Kata includes the vast majority of all historically used self-defense techniques. Each kata has a set pattern of movements including the phasing of techniques and proper breathing. KUMITE is a sparring with an
opponent during which techniques learned from KIHON and KATA are both used. There are several pre-arranged forms of kumite, where the right timing and distance
estimation are practiced and free sparring. The competition forms of karate
began to emerge in the 1950s. Federations and Unions, differ in their
relationship to traditions, which as a result directly affects the competition rules. Many federations currently exist in the
world, but the most widespread is The World Karate Federation (WKF). In the competition discipline KATA, a competitor who performs kata with more technical precision, dynamics, power, stability and in the right rhythm, wins. In the KATA TEAM category, a good synchronization of the team plays a significant role. The team also must show
BUNKAI which is the application of techniques of a kata. Another competition discipline is KUMITE. According to the WKF rules, full-contact is allowed only to the center of the body, but semi contact is used for attacks aimed at the head. The match has an intermittent character … the referee stops the fight and awards points or
penalties after each confrontation. A player who scores more points during the match wins. The most points are awarded for the kicks to the head and sweeps concluded with an offensive technique on the lying opponent. Karate inseparably
belongs among Japanese martial arts which were created based on practical
requirements of the past ways of fighting. Practitioners follow traditional customs pointing to the philosophy of this martial art even today. The idea of karate principles is reflected also in its competition form which has found its way into the Olympic Games.

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