16.14) Karate


Somewhat generic term used for Japanese and Okinawan fighting arts.

Origin:         Okinawa


Karate is a term that either means "Chinese hand" or "Empty hand" 
depending on which Japanese or Chinese characters you use to write it.  
The Okinawan Karates could be said to have started in the 1600s when 
Chinese practitioners of various Kung Fu styles mixed and trained with 
local adherents of an art called "te" (meaning "hand") which was a very 
rough, very simple fighting style similar to Western boxing.  These arts 
generally developed into close- range, hard, external styles.

In the late 19th century Gichin Funikoshi trained under several of the
great Okinawan Karate masters (Itosu, Azato) as well as working with 
Jigoro Kano (see Judo) and Japanese Kendo masters (see Kendo).  
Influenced by these elements, he created a new style of Karate.  This he 
introduced into Japan in the first decade of the 20th century and thus to 
the world. The Japanese Karates (or what most people refer to when they 
say "karate") are of this branch.


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,
and a strong offense as a good defense.


This differs widely but most of the Karate styles emphasize a fairly equal
measure of basic technique training (repitition of a particular 
technique), sparring, and forms.  Forms, or kata, as they are called, are 
stylized patterns of attacks and defenses done in sequence for training 

Sub-Styles:     (Okinawan): Uechi-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu
                (Japanese): Shotokan, Shito-Ryu, Wado-Ryu

Here is a more complete list (complements of Howard High) in which 
Okinawan and Japanese styles are mixed:

Ashihara, Chinto-Ryu, Chito-Ryu, Doshinkan, Gohaku-Kai, Goju-Ryu (Kanzen),
Goju-Ryu (Okinawan), Goju-Ryu (Meibukan), Gosoku-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, 
Kenseido, Koei-Kan, Kosho-Ryu Kenpo, Kyokushinkai, Kyu Shin Ryu, 
Motobu-Ryu, Okinawan Kempo, Okinawa Te, Ryokukai, Ryuken, Ryukyu Kempo, 
Sanzyu-Ryu , Seido, Seidokan, Seishin-Ryu, Shindo Jinen-Ryu, Shinjimasu, 
Shinko-Ryu, Shito-Ryu (Itosu-Kai), Shito-Ryu (Seishinkai), Shito-Ryu 
(Kofukan), Shito-Ryu (Kuniba Ha) , Shito-Ryu (Motobu Ha), Shorin-Ryu 
(Kobayashi), Shorin-Ryu (Matsubayashi), Shorin-Ryu (Shobayashi), 
Shorin-Ryu (Matsumura), Shorinji Kempo, Shorinji-Ryu, Shoshin-Ryu, 
Shotokai, Shotokan, Shotoshinkai, Shudokai, Shuri-Ryu, Shuri-Te, 
Uechi-Ryu , Wado-Kai, Wado-Ryu, Washin-Ryu, Yoseikan, Yoshukai, Yuishinkan.

Sub-Style Descriptions:

Wado-Ryu was founded by Hironori Ohtsuka around the 1920s. Ohtsuka studied
Jujutsu for many years before becoming a student of Gichin Funikoshi.
Considered by some to be Funikoshi's most brilliant student, Ohtsuka
combined the movements of Jujutsu with the striking techniques of Okinawan
Karate. After the death of Ohtsuka in the early 1980s, the style split 
into two factions: Wado Kai, headed by Ohtsuka's senior students; and 
Wado Ryu, headed by Ohtsuka's son, Jiro. Both factions continue to 
preserve most of the basic elements of the style.

Uechi-ryu Karate, although it has become one of the main Okinawan martial
arts and absorbed many of the traditional Okinawan karate training methods
and approaches, is historically, and to some extent technically quite
separate. The "Uechi" of Uechi-ryu commemorates Uechi Kanbun, an Okinawan
who went to Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian province in China in 1897 
to avoid being drafted into the Japanese army. There he studied under 
master Zhou Zihe for ten years, finally opening his own school, one of 
the few non-Chinese who ventured to do so at the time.  The man 
responisble for bringing Uechi-ryu to the US is George Mattson.

Uechi-ryu, unlike the other forms of Okinawan and Japanese karate 
mentioned in the FAQ, is only a few decades removed from its Chinese 
origins.  Although it has absorbed quite a bit of Okinawan influence and 
evolved closer to such styles as Okinawan Goju-ryu over those decades, it 
still retains its original Chinese flavor, both in its technique and in 
the culture of the dojo. It is a "half-hard, half-soft" style very 
similar to such southern Chinese styles as Fukienese Crane (as still 
practiced in the Chinese communities of Malaysia), Taiwanese Golden 
Eagle, and even Wing Chun.  Conditioning the body for both attack and 
defense is a common
characteristic of both Okinawan karate and southern Shaolin "street"
styles, and as such is an important part of Uechi training. There is a
strong internal component to the practice, including focused breathing and
tensioning exercises similar to Chinese Qigong.  Uechi, following its
Chinese Crane heritage, emphasizes circular blocks, low snap kicks,
infighting (coordinating footwork with grabs, locks, throws, and sweeps),
and short, rapid hand traps and attacks (not unlike Wing Chun).