Karate – Japan: meaning "empty hand" - began as a training practice for monks in the ancient Orient. It owes the fundamentals of its techniques to Kung Fu, from China, and Japan’s jujitsu fighting, but also contains elements of other fighting systems, including Roman gladiatorial combat, Japanese sumo wrestling and the type of weaponless fighting native to countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Karate is a generic term for the various kick/punch arts which originated in Okinawa and Japan. It is a martial art of unarmed self-defense in which directed blows of the hands or feet are delivered with special shouts from a poised stance. Karate is related to judo but stresses striking techniques, through kicks and punches, rather than wrestling or throwing an opponent. Karate as a means of self-defense has the oldest history, going back hundreds of years. It is only in recent years that the techniques which have been handed down were scientifically studied and the principles evolved for making the most effective use of the various moves of the body. Training based on these principles and knowledge of the working of the muscles and the joints and the vital relation between movement and balance enable the modern student of Karate to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, to defend himself successfully against any would-be assailant. As a physical art, Karate is almost without equal. Since it is highly dynamic and makes balanced use of a large number of body muscles, it provides excellent all-around exercise and develops coordination and agility.
The major traditional styles of karate are Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Goju Ryu, and Wado Ryu. Each of these styles is taught by several international organizations. Besides these 4 main styles there is a wide variety of other styles, system and family forms of karate. All of them trace their origin back to the island of Okinawa, formerly also know as the Ryukyu Islands, and the martial art developed there. Shotokan karate is an art, a sport, and the basis for a method of self defense. Different people choose to emphasize different aspects of karate in their personal training and study. As a group everyone is exposed to, and expected to participate in, training geared toward all three aspects (art, sport, and self defense) in an attempt to have a well rounded background. Stylistically, Shotokan is known for having strong, low stances, dynamic hip motions, and extremely precise techniques.
Below is a video about Karate from The History Channel TV Series Human Weapon
Please refer to our references as we have used a few different sources for the basic explanation of each martial art discipline. Many of our direct links, images and text will be from the site Wikipedia which is not known for the most accurate information when it comes to doing a thesis or studying for ones P.H.D. but does have a large collection of data that is well organized. Much of the text regarding martial arts styles on Wikipedia seems to generally sum up each discipline as good as many other sources. We do not intend to re-invent the wheel, but we do want to roll you in a good direction in order to get a glimps of each style.