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.
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
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
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
• 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.
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