What is Karate Do

In the most basic of terms: Karate Do is a Japanese Martial Art focussed on self-defence & mastery of the body and mind.

However, it is so much more than the simplistic explanation above yet at the same time is exactly the explanation above.

Meaning Of “Karate Do”

Karate Do is the amalgamation of actually two words and “Do”

  • KARA – Meaning Empty
  • TE – Meaning Hand
  • Do – Meaning Way

Together they all mean “The way of the empty hand” The DO in karate do is very significant although often missed off. Karate means Empty Hand. Which by itself is only a fighting technique. However, the “Do” brings in the true meaning of the martial art. “The Way”. It brings in a way of life and belief in endeavour, improving the spiritual being, honour, respect, value of life and much more. In Traditional Karate Do you will often see the phrase in English “Karate Do is not a sport, it is a way of life”

History of Karate

Karate Do was developed as a martial art in the Ryukyu Islands (now known as Okinawa) in Japan. However, the history of the art can be traced back through china in the time of the Shaolin Monks to an origin in India with Buddhist monk named Daruma (also known as Bodhidharma in India or Ta Mo in China).

According to many, Daruma travelled across the Himalayan mountains to the Shaolin Temple in the Honan Province of China. Legend says that there he began teaching the monks philosophies on mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Karate Do is said to have evolved from Chinese martial arts practiced at the temple, the style most predominantly associated with the history of karate do is the Fujian White Crane (from the Fujian province in China).

The Okinawans believe that karate do was brought to the islands by an Okinawan who spent some years learning and studying and the Shaolin Temple before bring the martial art to Okinawa. From this many styles arose on the islands from families to schools, enhancing, trying new techniques and polishing old ones.

Originally Karate was only called “te” or “hand” (Okinawans used Tii). It was developed prior to bringing it to the mainland in the 20th century solely by the Okinawan people.

During the 20th century there was a great time of cultural exchange between Japan and China, it was during this time that The founder of Modern Karate, Gichin Funakoshi, brought the martial art to mainland japan and developed it further into what we would recognise today as Shotokan Karate.

Karate Do Practice and Training.

Practitioners or Students of Karate Do are called karateka.

Traditional karate Do is practiced using three categories.

  • Kihon – The practice of fundamental stances, blocks, kicks, punches, strikes, target, control and speed
  • Kata – Placing what you have learned in kihon into set sequences, used to give a deeper understanding of kihon and the focus of the mind to visualise actually using the techniques.
  • Kumite – Used to practice kihon against an opponent and to enhance the understanding of karate. It helps to perfect timing, reactions, instinct and hardening of the body. Kumite is a form of practice not just a free for all fighting. Beginners to advance will use kumite to enhance their respective levels.

Although kumite (fighting) normally gets the glory in movies and on TV, all three are a necessity on the road to mastery of Karate Do.

  • Kihon, through repetition give you muscle memory which will mean faster reactions and instinct for using the correct block against an attack, or the correct strike when you see an opening. Not having to think about ‘how’ to do a karate move is the essence of kihon. The repetition and training of kihon means your body & karate are one.
  • Kata, in kata you will practice putting the above together. We visualise an opponent when we do the set moves, you can feel the body working to develop an understanding of karate. Improving kata and the intricacies involved will give your body a deeper natural understanding of karate. From which part of the foot to turn on, to which moves flow from one to the other, kata enhances your kihon to give a deeper understanding of karate moves.
  • Kumite, In Kumite you will learn to use what you have practiced above with a partner. From a beginner level, you do NOT just go and fight each other. As with kihon and kata, there are levels which make it easier for you to progress. From prearranged set attacks and defence to full free fighting. As with all karate do, learning kumite is a process. Kumite will help you understand timing of your opponents, body language before an attack, reaction to movement, instinct, reaction without thought, and getting round an opponent’s defence, spotting openings and capitalising immediately on opportunity. Kumite will help you control any situation including those of self-defence where you kihon, kata and kumite training could help save yours or another life.

Karate Do is the training of the mind and the body to improve character and physical health through repetition and control.

Come along to a class and see what Karate Do could be for you.

Contact us on:
07900 217 014

Dojo Address:
Bayford Village Hall
Hertfordshire SG13 8PX

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