What is Karate?


Karate is a traditional system of self defence and physical culture that originates from Okinawa and Japan. 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.

“Karate has no philosophy. Some people think that the tradition of Karate came from Buddhism and Karate has a connection with the absolute, space and universe, but I don’t believe in that. My philosophy is to knock my opponent out, due to the use of only one technique. One finishing blow!” – Mikio Yahara

What is Shotokan?

There are several fundamental styles of Karate which all conform to the above definition, but use slightly different training methods and place varying degrees of emphasis on issues such as the speed, strength and range of techniques – thus you will hear some described as ‘fast’ styles, others as ‘strong’ styles. Shotokan is a style of Karate which emphasises a balanced development of all these aspects, taught within a system which instils confidence and self-control. The Shotokan style was originated by an Okinawa teacher of physical education, Gichin Funakoshi, who introduced it to Japan in 1922, where it was developed extensively by the Japanese Master, Masatoshi Nakayama. Shotokan has spread to become the most widely practiced style of Karate throughout the World.

“In the past, it was expected that about three years were required to learn a single kata, and usually even an expert of considerable skill would only know three, or at most five, kata.” – Gichin Funakoshi (founder of Shotokan Karate)

World Karate Federation

The World Karate Federation, or WKF, was formed in 1990 from former WUKO (World Union of Karate-Do Organizations) members and is the largest international governing body of sport karate with over 130 member countries. It is the only karate organization recognised by the International Olympic Committee and has more than ten million members. The WKF organizes the Junior and Senior Karate World Championships, and several other championships. Find more about WKF.