What is Karate?
"True karate is this: that in daily life one's mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice."
-- Gichin Funakoshi
Karate translated either means "Chinese hand" or "Empty hand" depending on which Japanese or Chinese characters you use to write it.
Okinawan Karate styles tend to be hard and external. In defense they tend to be circular, and in offense linear. Okinawan Karate styles tend to place more emphasis on rigorous physical conditioning than the Japanese styles. Japanese styles tend to have longer, more stylistic movements and to be higher commitment. They also tend to be linear in movement, offense, and defense.
Both tend to be high commitment, and tend to emphasize kicks and punches, blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, joint manipulations and a strong offense as a good defense. Karate techniques consist basically of hand and foot techniques. Hand techniques are divided into defensive or offensive moves. Foot techniques are divided into kicking techniques; snap and thrust kicks. Other important elements of Karate include stances, posture, body shifting, hip rotation, and breathing.
Training differs widely but most of the Karate styles emphasize a fairly equal measure of basic technique training (kihon), sparring (kumite), and forms (kata). Forms are stylized patterns of attacks and defenses done in sequence for training purposes.
An art of self-defense as well as a sport, Karate has in recent decades proliferated worldwide. It is one of the most widely practiced of the Asian martial arts, with a large following in the U.S., Japan and Europe.