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Karate

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What is karate?

Karate is first and foremost a martial art; this fact must always be remembered. On its simplest level, karate is a method of unarmed combat, utilising punches, kicks, and blocks to subdue an attacker. As a student progresses, locks, throws and other techniques are added.

MEANING OF KARATE

The word is formed from the Japanese words Kara (empty) and Te (hand), symbolising that its practitioners - Karateka - are unarmed, but use their hands and feet for blocking and striking. Training is conducted within an environment based on certain Japanese cultural practices.


HISTORY

Although the island of Okinawa is regarded as the birthplace of karate, the origins of this art can be traced back further, to China, if not even to India. In the sixth century, the legendary Indian monk Bodhidharma is said to have travelled to China to spread the doctrine of Zen Buddhism. He stayed in the Shaolin monastery where he developed techniques that later on would be part of wushu.

Gichin FunakoshiGichin Funakoshi (born 1868) who is widely considered as the father of modern karate (Shotokan karate), was primarily responsible in introducing the Okinawan art of karate to the main islands of Japan. From there, this fascinating and engaging art spread like wildfire throughout the world.
Although used for extreme self-defense, the word "Karate" had a deeper and more extensive meaning to Funakoshi. To train in Karate, meant to train in the spirit of the empty hand, peace, friendship, and the inner beauty that it entails.

Karate practice is divided into:

• Kihon (drilling of stances, blocks, punches, strikes and kicks)
• Kata (pre-arranged forms simulating combat situations)
• Kumite (sparring)

In each category, the beginner is given instruction at the most basic level until the techniques become spontaneous. As the student approaches black belt level, technique, stamina, speed, and coordination become natural as a result of strong practice. Object of true karate practice is the perfection of oneself through the perfection of the art.


HOW TO COMPETE

In the last 40 years, karate has become a popular sport. As a sport, karate trains the body and the mind together. Free-style sparring develops fast reflexes, an alert mind, and a flexible, responsive body. Sparring contestants are prohibited from making heavy contact, so injuries are very rare. By sparring, contestants learn to remain composed under pressure and to react quickly whenever necessary. Today there is arranged official continental championships as well as World Championships.

ORGANIZATIONS

The International Karate Organisation was established 1970. On June 6, 1985 the World Union of Karatedo Organisation (WUKO), as it was known then, was officially recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Karate is also officially recognised by GAISF (General Association of International Sports Federations).

In Algeria in 1993, the World Karate Federation (WKF) became the official world karate body, absorbing WUKO and member services, according to IOC rules - a healthy development aimed at advancing karate world-wide. Currently the WKF consists of 170 affiliated countries.

In addition to the aim to include karate into the Olympic Games, the objective of the WKF is the unification of all karate organisations which practice karate either as sport or as a traditional art. It also strives to promote friendly bonds and a spirit of compassion among karate-ka of the world. WKF represents world karate and co-ordinates all karate activities throughout the world, establishes technical and operational rules, organises and controls international meetings and makes decisions upon various matters that may arise between its members.

 

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