An interesting documentary produced by the Nippon Karate Association in 1956 detailing the history and development of Okinawan Karate. The show highlights how wide reaching and beneficial Karate training is for children and adults of all ages.
About 300 years ago, during the History of China, the victims of attack by bandits in Highland every founded in a rather non-priest like fashion by creating a system of self-defense which is to this day an equal for deadly effectiveness that was born the biggest art of Karate, a form of self-defense in which no weapons of any sort are used. In fact, in Japanese, Karate means empty handed. Through practice and training however, the hands become weapons in themselves and that effective one that no form of offensive attack can overpower them.
The act of Karate as we know it now was developed by the natives of the Okinawa little or nothing that none of the 50 in development there and it remained a mysterious art well talked about and practiced in other parts of Asia. Until 1922 when the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Ginchin Funakoshi an outstanding exponent of Karate to give an exhibition in Japan, the Japanese showed a keen interest in the development of this unusual art and through the years this interest grew even stronger. At present, its popularity is increasing tremendously to the extent that it is now finding its way into the western world.
Karate uses every striking service of the body both for defense and for attack especially important are the hands and feet which are systematically trained until they become a formidable form of weapon. Since Karate is essentially a defensive art, they become defensive weapon to be used when attacked in which case they are also used for counterattack.
The various have kind of punches used in Karate are the rising forward punch, the side sitting punch, the hook punch, the inverted forward punch, the uke punch and the double forward punch. The basic movement is the ordinary forward punch. Unlike the boxing punch however in Karate, the body does not follow through the movement rather the entire body with emphasis on the hips is different at the moment of impact in each of the relaxed so that balance is never lost.
Just as important in Karate as the punch is the kick. There are various kinds among them the forward kick, the side hitting kick, the side snap kick and the side thrust kick. When properly mastered, these are even more powerful than the punches and maybe used most effectively as a surprise counterattack. Needless to say to be used successfully, this technique required considerable practice.
The basic principle of Karate is that a strong defense is the best possible offense. In deflecting an assault, the block is executed in such a way that the most effective counterattack may be instantly used thus in Karate, the defender paradoxically is almost assured of victory over the attacker. If the block is forcible enough however, there is often no need for any further counterattack. In other cases, the opponent’s attack is both anticipated and prevented by a suitable counterattack.
Learning the form of exercise is one of the most important facets of Karate training, for in this art the body must be made into a veritable weapon. These so-called kata or sets of exercises include all the various kinds of punching, kicking and blocking so that all kinds of imaginary attacks are successfully blocked and followed by effective counterattacks. There are more than 50 sets of such exercises most of which were long ago developed by Karate masters so that the students practice by themselves. Some kata empathize elaborate movement while others specialize in speed.
Sparring with another student comes only after one is thoroughly familiar with the basic movement of Karate in these mock fights the attack is pre-arranged and the defender is required to apply the block proper to the mode of attack following with the counter-attack.
Karate is also most effective in any kind of weapons attack for example in defending oneself against an attacker with a knife.
Boxing and Karate share some common elements but are actually quite different. In this earlier filmed comparison between the two, it will be noted that while agility and speed are most important in boxing in Karate, it is the combination of various kinds of punches and kicks plus speed and agility which make the Karate expert by far the more formidable opponent.
More recently, the art has been gaining popularity among women since brute strength is not required and since Karate is more an art than a sport, one may become adept at learning a fundamental by constant practice and master of the control and body coordination that even the most slightly built women may learn a very sure means of self-defense.
It is training however which is the most important single part of becoming a Karate expert. For it is by training alone that the body can develop the skill and strength needed in practice of this art. That’s one of the tests of proficiency consists of breaking three one inch boards with fists or feet or cracking 10 pieces of slate.
Another way of increasing one’s strength is by using weight on hands and feet, a practice which is now used in various kind of body building as well.
After mastering the fundamentals, the student is ready for freestyle practice. Unlike the sparring practice, here the attack is not pre-arranged. By this time, the Karate student is able to stop his kicks and pull his punches just short of contact this he must do or very shortly, he would have no one to practice with. This freestyle practice can be quite dangerous if the contestants are careless or overaggressive but it does add an element of competition and gives excellent training and accuracy and confidence.
As more and more people realize that Karate may not be deadly but may rather be a controlled and exercise sport giving the students absolute body control, it is expected that the freestyle matches will transform Karate into an accepted sport.
Karate as a most effective scientific technique of self-defense is gaining popularity not only with specialized institutes teaching it but also in offices, in homes, in the country and in schools. It is also becoming a part of the regular training of the American air police station in Japan. There’s every prospect that Karate will soon seize being a purely Japanese art and will gradually spread throughout all the countries in the world becoming both a sport and a superb means of self-defense.
Credit for Karate’s stage pf high development is due to Mr Ginchin Funakoshi, the man who gave Karate its first Japanese exhibition and who has devoted his life to teaching and perfecting of this art. Formally regarded as somewhat esoteric, it fundamentally protects secret that are passed on from master to selected students. Now, it is on its way to becoming a worldwide art.
In emphasis on successful defense, Karate is based on the highest principle of sportsmanship and fair play. Its practice is excellent all round exercise and aids in muscular development. It also teaches courage and self-confidence. Because of its deep devotion to the principle of the self-defense, Karate is obviously not a sport which will appeal to those who want to use it as an instrument of attack or who are merely interested in the amount of damage then may inflict if used. Since it does not teach how to harm other but rather, how to protect oneself it will therefore attract only those who wish to combine clean sport with a tangible accomplishment. In this way, Karate is an art, one of the most authentic practice and it is also a sport, one of the most rewarding ever devised.