Karate is a Japanese martial art whose physical aspects seek the development of defensive and counterattacking body movements.  The themes of traditional karate training are fighting and self-defense, though its mental and moral aspects target the overall improvement of the individual.  This is facilitated by the discipline and persistent effort required in training.   If karate had to be described in only one sentence, then the most suitable one may arguably be “You never attack first in karate.”   This is a a maxim of Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the Okinawan who brought karate to Japan in 1922, and who is accepted as the father of modern karate.

The word karate is a combination of two kanji (Chinese characters): kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus, karate means “empty hand.” Adding the suffix “-dō” (pronounced “daw”), meaning “the way/path,” karate-dō, implies karate as a total way of life that goes well beyond the self-defense applications. In traditional karate-dō, one is supposed to compete and strive to excel against him/herself.

Today there are four main styles of karate in Japan: Shotokan, Goju-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu.  Shotokan, though never described as a style by Gichin Funakoshi, it has been nevertheless considered as his.  Actually  Shotokan  was the name of his dōjo, chosen after the pen name used by Funakoshi to sign poems written in his youth. Shotokan Karate is characterized by powerful linear techniques and deep strong stances.  It is the style taught at the Tulane Karate Club.

Like the word karate, Shotokan is also composed of two different kanji :  Shoto, meaning “pine breeze” and kan, meaning “the place”, thus Shotokan means the place of shoto.

Around the year 527AD. Budhidharma or Druma or Ta Mo, a mysterious ascetic, the 28th patriarch of the major Buddhist sect Mahayana, made the epic journey of crossing the Himalayas and entered China. His destination was the shaolin temple of the Honan province. At the shaolinzu Bodhi dharma, noticed that his disciples lacked the physical strength to continue their meditation. He then taught them a series of physical exercises which he had formed when as a prince of Kerala, through his daily observation of how birds and animals stalked their prey and incapacitated them. These exercise helped condition human form physically and spiritually. These exercises are known as the eighteen lohan shou and forms the basis for the Chinese kenpo.

In 1609, Okinawa an important trade and commercial centre was captured by the Japanese. They were rendered powerless and were oppressed by their Japanese masters. Due to oppression there arose a need to defend themselves. The Chinese kenpo that had made inroads into Okinawa took a new form called Karate (Empty Hand)

Karate in 1921 was introduce by Gichin Funokoshi and Choki Motobu from where it spread all over the World. Gichin Funokoshi is known as the father of modern Karate. He started a Dojo in 1936 where he taught Karate which he called shotokan. In his words “KARATE is not for aggression but self improvement to win a fight or many fights is not the highest skills but win over oneself is the highest skill.”

Karate helps develop body balance, posture, agility, co-ordination and grace. As a mean for self defence it is indispensible. We see martial system use Karate because it has atemi-waza (striking technique) done using all the four limbs. Ketsugo is one such martial system that has incorporated Karate. They have taken the best from major styles of Karate like the upright and circular movements of the Okinawan Karate, the low stance and linear attacks of Japanese Karate, the extensive use of the lower limbs as seen in the  Korean Karate, to form an exclusive & intensive Karate syllabus in an invincible self defence system KETSUGO.

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