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Karate

After Okinawan King Sato paid tribute to China’s Ming dynasty in 1372, trade was opened between the two countries. In 1392, 36 Shaolin martial artists from Fujian province arrived in Okinawa to teach them Chinese martial arts. This led to the development of Okinawan martial arts that were named after the villages of their origin—naha-te, shuri-teand tomari-te. From these three villages arose the various styles of karate, two of which were shorei-ryu and shorin-ryu. After studying these two styles of karate in Okinawa, Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957) simplified the movements and introduced karate into Japan from Okinawa in 1921. By 1939, Gichin Funakoshi built his first official karate dojo and called it the House of Shoto (Gichin Funakoshi’s pen name) or, as it is mostly called today, shotokan karate.

The term “karate” was first used in 1722 when Okinawan martial artist Sakugawa created his martial art karate-no-sakugawa, wherein kara refers to China. Thus, karate originally meant “Chinese hand” or “Tang Hand” after China’s Tang dynasty. However, when karate was introduced into Japan, the meaning of “kara” was changed to “empty.” This is why karate today is translated as “empty hand.”

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  1. Black Belt Flashback! Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi, Head of Goju-Ryu Karate

    Black Belt Flashback! Gogen “The Cat” Yamaguchi, Head of Goju-Ryu Karate

    Journey back in time to March 1966 when Black Belt profiled a well-known Japanese martial artist and featured him on the cover. Thus was goju-ryu karate introduced the American martial arts masses.
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  2. How to Hit Harder: The Key to Developing Maximum Power in Karate, Taekwondo and Other Martial Arts!

    How to Hit Harder: The Key to Developing Maximum Power in Karate, Taekwondo and Other Martial Arts!

    A quick review of a few of the science lessons you learned in high school is all you need to start generating more power in your strikes. The concepts — mass, velocity, momentum and so on — are basic and beneficial!
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  3. Inside Japanese Martial Arts: The True Role of Kata in Karate

    Inside Japanese Martial Arts: The True Role of Kata in Karate

    Black Belt columnist Dave Lowry delves into kata’s three pillars. “Grasp these concepts and you’ll find it easier to see the place of kata in your training and to make informed judgments about its practice,” he says. Decide for yourself.
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  4. Dave Lowry: How Karate Sensei Can Avoid Mixed Messages in the Dojo

    Dave Lowry: How Karate Sensei Can Avoid Mixed Messages in the Dojo

    When it comes to children, martial arts instructors should be as careful about the example they set as they are about the techniques they teach, according to the longtime Black Belt magazine columnist.
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  5. Japanese Martial Arts Expert Dave Lowry: Do You Need to Go to Japan for Serious Karate Training?

    Japanese Martial Arts Expert Dave Lowry: Do You Need to Go to Japan for Serious Karate Training?

    As a serious karateka, do you need to travel to Japan? Do you need to go to the homeland of budo to gain the perspective necessary to understand your art? No. Yes. Maybe.
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  6. Karate Techniques: Master the Knifehand Strike

    Karate Techniques: Master the Knifehand Strike

    Tough. Versatile. Effective. This is how Damian Ross describes what is often erroneously referred to as the “judo chop.” But when used correctly in close-combat situations, the knifehand strike is no laughing matter.
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  7. George Dillman: The Controversial Karate Master Who Popularized Pressure Points

    George Dillman: The Controversial Karate Master Who Popularized Pressure Points

    A former tournament standout, George Dillman first learned of the role pressure points play in self-defense from Hohan Soken. Subsequent training under Seiyu Oyata opened Dillman’s eyes to the effectiveness of the art, which is known as kyusho-jitsu.
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  8. Defending the Use of Human Pressure Points in Kyusho-Jitsu Self-Defense Moves

    Defending the Use of Human Pressure Points in Kyusho-Jitsu Self-Defense Moves

    In the martial arts community, those who practice kyusho-jitsu (pressure-point fighting) are often subjected to criticism. It all started when their self-defense moves were first brought into the limelight and onlookers didn’t even want to believe the techniques were real. Those days are long past, however, and the reality of
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  9. Wing Chun Techniques: The Secret Weapon Against Leg Attacks

    Wing Chun Techniques: The Secret Weapon Against Leg Attacks

    In 1966, karate legend Joe Lewis rocketed to stardom by winning Jhoon Rhee’s U.S. Nationals in Washington, D.C. Incredibly, it was his first tournament, and he won every single point with only one technique — the side kick.

    For six years, Chuck Norris ruled the karate world with his spinning kicks.
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  10. Top 10 Karate Concepts Every Martial Artist Should Know

    Top 10 Karate Concepts Every Martial Artist Should Know

    For many practitioners, one of the most challenging components of karate training is learning the nuances of the terms used in the dojo. Any instructor can offer a one-word definition of each Japanese word, and that can certainly lessen the complexity of what’s being taught. But often a quickie translation
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