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Karate is primarily a striking art, featuring punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques. Depending on the style, joint manipulations, locks, grappling, restraints, throws, and vital point striking are also taught.

Karate arose from the same ancient traditions which led to the development of Kung Fu. By the fifth century A.D., on Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), a weaponless combat system called te ("hand") had developed. Later, when the teachings of the Shaolin Temple in China were carried to Okinawa, some of the Shaolin techniques were infused with the te art.

During the fifteenth century, the Japanese who occupied Okinawa forbade the natives to carry arms and te began to flourish, at the time, it went by several names, including te and karate (a term which originally meant "China hand," but which in the twentieth century was redefined to mean "empty hand").

In 1905, an Okinawan instructor named Gichin Funakoshi introduced Okinawa-te to Japan, teaching it in public schools. t that time, its name was formalized as Karate. After World War II, American servicemen stationed in Japan learned the art, which helped to spread it world-wide.

Some basic elements are common to most Karate schools and substyles. The main moves of the style are kicking and punching techniques. Traditional Karate strove for power and strength: the main goal was to kill or disable the opponent with one blow. The kiai or deep shout that accompanies most blows serves to channel ones energy into the attack. Moves are learned through constant repetition, sparring, and the practice of kata, carefully choreographed strings of attacks and defenses in which the martial artists pretends to fight multiple enemies. ome locks and throws may be taught, but this is rare more often, ways to resist locks and throws are taught instead.

The traditional Karate uniform is the gi it is also used by many other martial arts practitioners. The gi consists of the uwagi, or long-sleeved jacket, and zubon, or trousers. The obi, or belt, is colored the color indicates the wearers rank. Originally the standard gi was beige today it is white. Professional Karate fighters wear gloves, foot-and-shin armor, and loose pants rather like warm-ups. They also wear athletic cups. Male Karate professionals occasionally go bare-chested.

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