Karate

 

Karate, literally meaning "way of the empty hand" in Japanese, is a martial art that emphasises striking techniques such as punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes using open hand techniques. It originated as a method of self-defence which relied on the effective use of the unarmed body, and was made up of elaborate techniques of blocking or thwarting an attack and counter-attacking.

As a physical art, karate is almost without equal. This highly dynamic sport provides excellent all-round exercise and develops co-ordination and agility, making balanced use of a large number of body muscles.

Modern karate is a combat sport that employs a formal method of physical and mental training. All punches, kicks, blows and strikes must be controlled and pulled back before contact to avoid injuries to either contestant.

Different karate styles have varying belt orders, but white almost always means beginner and black is the highest belt attainable. Dress for competitive karate consists of the karate suit, the karategi, or gi, with the belt, bare feet and mitts.

Kata is the name of a very popular form of karate. It is a set sequence of basic defence and attacking routines which is performed alone, usually on a mat. At competition level, a technically good routine is essential for success.

History

Karate is generally described as originating in Okinawa, Japan, influenced by the various practitioners who migrated to Japan from China during the early 20th century.

As a martial art, karate evolved from a mixture of indigenous Okinawan Japanese fighting arts and Chinese martial arts. Originally there were no particular styles, only a network of practitioners, each with their own individual fighting methods and eclectic traditions.

Like most martial arts practiced in Japan, modern karate made its transition as a sport from the jujitsu schools around the beginning of the 20th century. Karate was introduced into high schools before World War II; many universities initiated their own karate club programmes.

Karate was introduced to other countries around 1950 by Japanese masters of the art, many of whom came from the JKA (Japan Karate Association). However, no national and international organisations were formed.

The first world championships were held in 1970. Like taekwondo and judo, karate has been adapted for practice as a competitive sport; presently there are a multitude of styles and schools.

Karate became an Asian Games sport during the 11th Asian Games in 1990 in Beijing, China.

 Rules

Men

Kata individual: Kumite -55kg; Kumite -60kg; Kumite -65kg; Kumite -70kg; Kumite -75kg; Kumite -80kg; Kumite +80kg.

Women

Kata Individual: Kumite -48kg; Kumite -53kg; Kumite -60kg; Kumite +60kg.

Each Olympic Committee of Asia (OCA) member may enter one male and one female contestant for the individual kata competition. Each contestant performs a compulsory shitei routine and a free selection or tokui of their choice. This contestant can also take part in the individual kumite competition.

Kumite is a sparring event. During this sparring event competitors can hit their opponent's torso and sometimes light touches of the head are allowed. Otherwise controlled attacks must be carried out.

Judges award points depending on the move performed. For example, hitting an opponent's abdomen with your fists earns one point, whereas kicking them with your feet earns two points.

Judges give points for individual performances, with the highest and lowest score discarded before a result is announced.