Karate is a Japanese Martial Art - that is, a fighting system, with useful techniques that can ultimately be used for self-defence.

To be able to use Karate effectively, each separate technique - blocking, kicking, punching etc. - has to first be practised individually then put together into different combinations during basic training. Only after understanding the basics can students begin to learn how to apply them to the varied circumstances they may encounter.

Traditional set forms called 'KATA' have been handed down by Masters from previous generations for the purpose of perfecting the techniques learnt at each stage. These play an important part in development.

More than a simple sport or keep-fit method, Karate develops mastery of both mind and body. The more diligent the study, the greater the result.

Karate: (Japan) "Empty hand." Karate is a general term referring to the tradition of combat oriented empty hand fighting methods that originated in Okinawa, often referred to as Karate-Jutsu. Karate was introduced into Japan proper in the early 20th Century where it was modified and systematized into a budo form, known as karate-do. After World War II karate proliferated world-wide.

Karate-do: (Japan) The way of karate. Karate that follows the principles of budo or do. Karate-do is about the development of the individual's character. The ultimate aim is indeed self-enlightenment, and self-development.

Karate-Jutsu: (Japan) The art of karate. Karate that is combat or purely self-defence oriented, more concerned with proper technique and effectiveness than attainment of spiritual values or self-improvement.

Sport Karate: The vast majority of clubs/dojo today have some form of sporting competition. Very few clubs actively promote this fact to new members or beginners (they just advertise as Karate). You will be expected to spar (controlled fighting) and possibly compete (semi contact/full contact) against other members and other clubs. Less emphasis is placed upon tradition and character development.

Important note for beginners: Ensure you understand what you want from 'Karate' and what a club/dojo can provide.

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