Traditional methods in karate

Updated: Jun 16

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

Masutatsu Oyama (1923-1994), the founder of the traditional Kyokushinkai karate, was a student of Master Funakoshi. He drew from the Shotokan many things that helped him develop his own method. He also put several Shotokan katas into Kyokushin with small changes. Unlike Shotokan karate, it is a full-contact combat method and it means "the society of absolute truth". Its rules allow kicks to the head and legs, unlike other karate styles. This is a full-contact battle and is considered an effective and realistic fighting style. In this method many (MMA) fighters train, the method is suitable for self-defense needs and contributes to the development of self-discipline in its trainees. In this method the global content of the lesson is pretty much the same as with Shotokan Karate, i.e. the training is usually divided into three main parts: Base, Komita, and Kata.

In the philosophy of the method, one can refer to the seven "Dojo Kun" principles laid down by Oyama, each of which is of paramount and equal importance: faithful to our hearts and bodies for a steady and steadfast spirit; We will pursue the true meaning of the way of fighting so that in time our senses will be alert; With true vigor, we aspire to develop a spirit of asceticism; We will adopt the laws of courtesy, respect our superiors, and refrain from violence; We will walk in our religious path, and we will never forget the virtue of humility; We long for wisdom and resilience, not for other passions; All our lives, through the discipline of karate, we will strive to realize the true meaning of the Kyokushin Way.

Characteristics of Goju Rio Karate

Chojun Miyagi Sensei (1888-1953), founder of the traditional Goju Rio method. At this method beginning training with a short meditation, warm-up exercises which include stretching and strength exercises with aerobics. In the second stage, continue with basic exercises such as basic attacks, defenses, evasions, etc... In the next stage, more complex exercises are performed according to the same topic that basic exercises were performed. During Practice working in pairs, the trainees repeating complex exercises when the Battles are based on the theme of the lesson. We will emphasize that this method really differentiates between flow exercises and strength or precision exercises. Towards the end of the lesson, katas are given to the trainees on a topic that matches the nature of the lesson, And later short strength training and releases will perform. Finishing the lesson with a short meditation. Due to the nature of the method, in advanced kata, there are elements of close combat or escape from grips in various forms. In the method, it is customary to practice fights for longer distances.

Score Points In traditional Karate

In traditional karate, scoring is based on the Okinawan proverb, "a single blow - certain death" that the battle must end with a single blow and victory. The Yoko-one point, punch forward, Vasari-two points, kick to the back or abdomen, ippon-three points, get on a kick to the head or throwing the opponent to the ground by marking state of punch with the fist without injury or real blow.


What does the training equipment of the Self-Defense trainer include?

Following the history of the method, great importance is attached to the formation of functional muscles. On the one hand, it is necessary to work on speed and agility in movement, and on the other hand, to develop muscles to increase strength and power. To succeed in this task: Need to work with small weights, many reps in each set; Also combine with strength training, it is advisable to consult with a trainer so as not to damage the muscle ligaments; It is recommended to work with a wrist expander and rubber for dynamic loading; With heavy training rope; a lot of reps on a heavy and light boxing bag; With a punching bag, etc ... It is imperative to practice throwing, choking, blocking, kicking and punching. Punches and knees on the trainer's abdomen may only be performed with suitable and safe belly protectors! In the tactical training of Krav-Maga, rubbery equipment is used like knives, padded sticks, etc... One needs to use equipment that has passed strict safety tests. When signing up for a club, check if their gym floor is well protected and if there is a suitable protective pad against falls, throws, etc. Below is a list of the recommended trainer equipment when teaching Self-Defense:

How important is personal protective equipment when practicing Self-Defense?

Good schools understand the importance of protective equipment when teaching martial arts in general and in combat in particular. Demonstrations and battles are not allowed without appropriate protective equipment! These are usually inexpensive shields compared to the physical damage they prevent. Also, there is no insurance without protective equipment! When striking a punching bag, be it a jab, cross, hook, or uppercut, boxing gloves should be used. It is recommended for full contact to use a body protector that maintains the integrity of the ribs. Also, shields for the head, teeth, groin, and legs are recommended.

It is very important to practice Self-Defense using rubber training knives and even more important during training to wear appropriate protective equipment: such as glasses designed to protect the eyes; a body protector; a Head guard against receiving an unwanted blow. The following is a list of recommended equipment for knife defense studies:

With what equipment is it recommended to practice Self-Defense at home?

To learn Self-Defense, one needs to practice the same thing, many times over. This is not a theoretical area compared to other martial arts where one can learn from a trainer by watching directly through a computer. So practice and interaction are of the utmost importance. Although, it is worth it and even recommended to work at home on punches and kicks, strength training, etc. For this purpose, it is possible to purchase minimal personal equipment that does not take up much space at home. Prepares physically for classes in the section. It also improves the following parameters: Strength, flexibility, cardiopulmonary endurance, and more.

Using a yoga mat, abdominal muscles can be improved; Training weights are to improve muscle strength; Using an adjustable strength bench can strengthen chest muscles by lifting weights; A free-standing punching bag is a perfect solution for punching and kicking improvement at home ... Below is a list of recommended equipment for home exercise:

Home training is recommended to be performed under the supervision of a certified trainer. It is recommended to avoid exercising alone at home!

How important is cardiopulmonary endurance in Self-Defense workouts?

First of all, this is health, and secondly, in a battle that does not end in a short time, the one who has cardiopulmonary endurance wins. To improve cardiopulmonary endurance, it is recommended to take brisk walks, combined with running, to increase and decrease the pace. These runs can be done outdoors, on the coast, on a Treadmill, or on a Home spinning bike. Recommended: Wear suitable shoes while running, and document and monitor your calorie burn and heart rate with your Smartwatch. Also, with the help of this it is very easy to see improvements in cardiopulmonary endurance, In fact, all your actions are recorded using a computer, and there is a training history. The following is a list of recommended personal equipment for home workouts, for developing cardiopulmonary endurance, and for monitoring and controlling progress: