Karate is for developing body, mind and spirit. On a physical level, Karate is a study of body mechanics and structures for developing speed, agility and power; and delivering that power smoothly and effectively into the opponent. A highly trained Karate practitioner can perform feats which sometimes appear to be almost super-human. But it all comes down to well-developed body mechanics and structures ingrained over a long period of training.
After the student learns the body mechanics and structures they then learn how to apply them for self-defence purposes. Some modern martial arts go straight into the self defence side with little or no structure. Whilst they make quick gains in self defence skills, without good body mechanics and structures to back it up, they (in our humble opinion) will reach the limits of their capability much more quickly. Taking time to learn all the body mechanics and structures properly takes longer, but increases your capabilities in the long term. This is where it also trains mind and spirit too.
Karate is generally considered to be a Japanese martial art, although it was originally developed on the island of Okinawa. The Okinawans had their own basic combat system call “Te” (meaning “hand”). Over the centuries it was heavily influenced by Chinese Kung Fu due to frequent Chinese traders and emissaries visiting Okinawa. Te became know as “Kara-Te”, meaning “China Hand”. Later however, this was changed to “Empty Hand”, although it was still pronounced “Kara-Te”.
Different schools (styles) of Karate developed over Okinawa. However, probably the most potent and devastating form was Shuri-Te which was developed by the bodyguards to the King of Okinawa. At a time when Okinawa was occupied by the Japanese, the Okinawans (including the King’s bodyguards) were not allowed to carry weapons. They were the only bodyguards to a Head Of State in history who were unarmed! Their Karate therefore had to be fast, powerful, effective and ruthlessly efficient. It was arguably the most effective form of unarmed combat ever devised.
The devastating art of Shuri-Te evolved into a number of other styles, most notably Shotakan Karate, which is the base style practiced by the Holistic Karate School.