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Traditional methods in karate

Updated: Jun 16, 2022

In this article, we will go over the three traditional methods of karate which were born in Japan and originated in China. We will ask the following questions: Why each of the methods is unique and has a completely different purpose? We will focus on their main characteristics and will try to understand which traditional method is dominant in the world today due to its properties. What kind of safety equipment is used in traditional karate? We will find out what unites them anyway except for the fact that they originated in China.

 

The birth of different methods in karate

In traditional karate, great emphasis is placed on katas training and in a collection of movements without full contact with the opponent.
Traditional karate performances, group kata practices.

let’s turn to the ancient history of Japan. In principle, the various methods in karate are a mixture of Okinawan fighting methods and originally come from Chinese martial arts. Modern karate is existing mainly after the 19th century. In 1906 several karate methods were distributed from Okinawa Island in Japan. At the time existed two famous karate methods as, Shotokan and Shitoryu. After World War II, karate gained formal recognition in Japan, as a traditional Japanese method of fighting. Three main currents of karate have developed in Okinawa: Shotokan, Goju Rio, and Kyokushankai, When the third method, originates from the methods of Shotokan and Goju Rio.


Why did karate split into two major streams, traditional and sporty?

Sporty karate has been influenced by local and cultural changes depending on the region in which it evolves. Sporty stream incorporated with different styles of martial arts, and as a result, become mixed martial arts (MMA).
Sporty karate, emphasis is placed on effective and powerful movements with a combining wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, etc...

Karate, like all living and breathing bodies, undergoes evolutionary processes in the same environment in which it is located. That is, trying to adapt to an existing reality. Today karate continues to evolve all over the world, but the original method was split into two major streams, for traditional and sporty current. When in the traditional current the emphasis is on learning and practicing katas. As opposed to traditional karate, sporty karate has been influenced by local and cultural changes depending on the region in which it evolves. Sporty stream incorporated with different styles of martial arts, and as a result, become mixed martial arts (MMA). In other words, during the fights, emphasis is placed on effective and powerful movements with a combining wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, etc... Unlike traditional, conservative karate schools, which retain the original and cultural character. In traditional karate, great emphasis is placed on katas training and in a collection of movements without full contact with the opponent. Although there is a traditional method with full contact, we will discuss it later.

At the beginning of the 21st century, sporty karate has become more dominant around the world. The global organization (W.K.F) exclusively represents karate on the Olympic Committee. When at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, were two types of competitions, kata shows, and komita fights. When during the fights it is mandatory to wear leg protectors, light gloves, and dental protectors.


Is there a difference between traditional methods in karate?

So that we can compare the different methods in karate. We will go over the three traditional methods: Shotokan, Goju Rio, and Kyokushinkai, try to review the salient features of the methods, and then we will understand how different they are in essence.


Characteristics of Shotokan Karate

Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the founder of the traditional Shotokan karate, his symbol, a tiger blocked in a circle, symbolizes the tremendous and wild power held by the warrior, the restrained power which is under control, released only in times of need. In the philosophy of the method, one can refer to several selected quotations which Gichin Funakoshi put forward: Karate training requires a lifetime; There is no first attack in karate; First understand yourself, then understand others; The thought should be liberated; Do not forget the dynamics of power, the elasticity of body and speed of technique.

The workout is usually divided into three main parts: base, komita, and kata. When techniques are characterized by depth and deep endurance that provide stability, strong movements and strengthen the legs. In Shotokan karate is not used by force, but by "Kima", which is the weight and center of gravity of the body, i.e. utilizing the entire body weight, according to Gichin Funakoshi's approach, this approach is stronger than movement resulting from the arm or leg muscles alone. In Shotokan karate, trainees try to use the same motion during fights as while kata performances.

Creator of the method Gichin Funakoshi thought that traditional martial arts like sumo, jiu-jitsu, and kanjutsu focus too much on fighting, and decided to put more emphasis on health, breathing, and extraordinary control of body and mind.


Characteristics of Kyokushankai Karate