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Karate is a martial art involving a variety of fighting techniques, including blocks, kicks, punches, strikes, evasions, sweeps, throws, and joint manipulations. Karate practice is divided into three aspects: kihon (basics), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring).
The Shotokan style of Karate was developed by Master Gichin Funakoshi. Gichin Funakoshi was born in Shuri, Okinawa in 1868. As a boy, he was trained by two famous masters of that time. Each trained him in a different Okinawan martial art. From Ankō Azato he learned Shuri-te. From Ankō Itosu, he learned Naha-te. It would be the melding of these two styles that became Shotokan karate.
Master Funakoshi wrote with the pen name "Shoto." Therefore, it became common to call his karate school Shotokan (“kan” meaning “house.”) However, Master Funakoshi did not call his art Shotokan; rather he simply referred to it as karate.
The word karate is a combination of two Japanese characters: kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus, karate means “empty hand.” Adding the suffix “-do” (pronounced “doe”), meaning “way,” i.e., karate-do, implies karate as a way of life that goes beyond the self-defense applications and that asks the question “what is the self worth defending?”
Master Funakoshi introduced karate to Japan. In 1917 he was asked to perform his martial art at a physical education exhibition sponsored by the Ministry of Education. He was asked back again in 1922 for another exhibition. He was asked back a third time, but this was a special performance for the emperor and the royal family! After this, Master Funakoshi decided to remain in Japan and teach and promote his art.
The ultimate aim of karate is “in the perfection of human character” through dedicated training. While trained to “kill with one blow” (“ikken hisatsu”) in the protection of one’s precious life, a karate practitioner favors awareness and avoidance over physical confrontation and conflict.
Karate training involves practicing the basics of blocking, punching, and kicking, utilizing correct body dynamics in accordance with physics principles. “Katas” or forms provide another level of training. They are sets of choreographed movements which link basic karate techniques against imagined opponents attacking from all directions in combat. Basic techniques and katas are performed “solo.” However, applications or “bunkai” from the katas are often practiced with the aid of one or more partners. Finally, sparring or “kumite” drills with a partner or with multiple partners allow the practice of the art in realistic (yet controlled) combat and self-defense situations.
Karate drills emphasize core body strength and movement, hip rotation, rapid limb expansion and sharp physical focus, all of which when correctly utilized through serious training result in extraordinary concussive power. Sustained training provides physical exercise, builds endurance, enhances flexibility and fosters mental discipline and courage in the face of adversity. Thr Ridgecrest Karate Club differs from many other karate studios in its adherence to karate as a martial art rather than predominantly as a competitive sport. The real competition is only within each student. Each student works towards self-improvement in accordance with his or her abilities.