More than 35 years ago, the movie The Karate Kid was a smash hit all over the world, and this helped propel karate’s popularity as a martial art greatly. Karate literally means ’empty hand’, and it was developed in Okinawa having been influenced by Chinese martial art Kung Fu. Karate is a striking art where practitioners use both hands/arms and feet/legs.
Karate was formed by combining Chinese Kung-fu with Okinawan martial arts and it developed as a method of self-defense. One fights not with weapons but with fists, elbows, and feet, hence the name ’empty hand’, although the original meaning of karate was ‘Chinese hand’. Basic tactics included the forward fist thrust and defense, kicking, and the backward elbow thrust.
There are 2 kinds of karate matches, sparring matches and form competitions. Matches against an opponent are scored by launching effective thrusts and kicks, but blows must stop short of hitting the opponent’s body. Kata matches (form competitions) are demonstrations of various combinations of techniques by one person or group.
Judgment is based on standards such as the accuracy, posture, and spiritedness of techniques displayed. Karate emphasizes not only physical strength but also spiritual aspects, just like any other martial arts from Japan. The Tokyo Olympics of 2021 will be the first time karate will be featured in the Olympics, which will hopefully provide another popularity boost for the martial art.
There are many karate schools in Japan’s city and suburban areas, and if you are interested to see or experience a karate practice on your trip to Japan, please let us know when you book your tour with us. We are happy to help you to incorporate a visit to a school on your itinerary.