What Is Karate?
The literal translation of karate is "empty hand". "Kara" is empty and "te" is hand. On the surface, karate is a martial art employing the use of the body,
without the aid of weapons or tools, for the purpose of striking, blocking, or otherwise hitting a target using various parts of the body including the hands
and feet. It is viewed as an art of self defence, physical exercise and as a fighting method.
ISKF (International Shotokan Karate Federation)
The International Shotokan Karate Federation is a non-profit worldwide organization founded by Master T. Okazaki, 10th Dan, Chief Instructor and Master Y. Yaguchi, 9th Dan. Sensei Hiroshi Okazaki, 8th dan is the current Chairman and Vice Chief Instructor of the ISKF organization. There are over 50,000 members from North and South America, Europe, India, Russia, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Caribbean Islands, Middle East and Philippines.
Shotokan karate is the oldest and most traditional form of Japanese martial arts. Shotokan Karate was founded by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Originally developed in China under various forms of martial arts, modern day karate is attributed to Master Funakoshi who first introduced it in Japan in 1921.
Karate is a lifelong training in and out of the dojo. The physical training includes the practice of kihon (fundamental techniques of stances, blocks, strikes, kicks and punches), kata (series of karate techniques performed in a preset pattern) and kumite (sparring while applying karate techniques ).
Essential to the practice of karate is the control of technique. A karateka (one that practices Karate) should be able to strike either with a punch or kick and stop about 3 centimetres from the target still applying maximum power to the technique. Each technique requires speed, power, timing, rhythm, proper expansion and contraction of the muscles, connection of the hips and body parts which ultimately results in Kime (focus).
Training without the proper development of one's character and spirit results in an imbalance. The goal of Karate is the pursuit of perfection of character. The symbol for "kara" should not be construed strictly with "te". "Kara" originally meant "Chinese". Master Funakoshi changed the symbol to the Japanese ideogram of "kara" meaning "emptiness". The empty in this context is the development of character and mind. In fact the mind becomes clear or "empty" through proper karate training. The emptiness concept of “kara” attaches the emptiness of mind or “mushin”, empty and clear mind. We train to clear our minds of fear, stress, nervousness and thoughts that clutter our thinking and ability to react quickly to an attacker. The concept can be applied to our everyday lives, in work or studies. A clear mind means that a karateka must be humble, gentle, unselfish and above all be courteous.
Through a clear mind, one learns self control, dedication and determination.
Therefore karate is more than winning a competition, defeating an opponent or obtaining a black belt. Indeed, it is a part of life itself for which those pursue it as part of one's path in life will find spiritual development and perfection of character. Karate-dō is the unity of mind and body ("ken san ichi"). To achieve the perfection of character, however, it is necessary to train hard and regularly but over time the body ages and physical development is diminished. Development of the spirit and character is boundless and without limit.