What is Karate? Karate, Japanese for “open hand,” is a popular form of martial arts practiced worldwide. A weaponless means of self-defense, karate involves offensive and defensive moves which require acute physical coordination and mental focus. Developed over thousands of years, modern karate originated in Okinawa, an island now part of Japan. The “karate way” is an all-encompassing approach to life, rather than merely a system of combat. Through karate, karatekas concentrate on physical, spiritual, and mental development, with the ultimate objective of perfection of self through the perfection of the art.

Karate Self-Defense

Through training, each karateka cultivates their own arsenal of kicks, punches, and deflection techniques. Learning to coordinate the mind and body allows for the unleashing of tremendous physical power at will, which means even small people are able to deliver a crushing blow to a would-be attacker.

Karate Practice

Karate practice consists of three stages or parts, with advanced practices demanding more stamina and more difficult and intricate katas:

  •  Kihon: (Basics) Drilling of stances, blocks, strikes, punches, and kicks, developing speed, sharpness, and strength and learning to use the whole body to block an attack or deliver a punch
  •  Kata: A sequence of simulated combat situations consisting of combinations of blocks, sweeps, strikes, punches, kicks, and throws; also teaches stepping, twisting, turning, jumping, and dropping to the ground
  •  Kumite or Sparring: Training the hands to make the motions of attack without delivering actual blows

Karate Benefits

The practice of karate is known to tone the body, develop coordination, and improve physical and mental health. Additional benefits of karate include:

  • Keen coordination of the mind and body
  • Quicker reflexes
  • Building of stamina
  • Self-discipline development
  • Improved composure
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Clearer thought processes
  • Fun way for children to achieve fitness and focus
  • Improved socialization skills
  • Insight into one’s mental capacities
  • Journey towards perfection of self

Karate Belts and Skill Levels

Karatekas typically wear white, loose-fitting pants and a jacket cinched with a belt, an outfit known as a gi. The belt colors indicate a specific skill level or kyu. In ascending order, the karate belt system ranking is as follows:

    • White Belt (novice): 9th to 6th kyu
    • Yellow Belt: 5th kyu
    • Orange belt: 4th kyu
    • Green Belt: 3rd kyu
    • Blue Belt: 2cd kyu
    • Brown Belt: 1st kyu
    • Black Belt: 1st to 8th dan
    • Red Belt: 9th and 10th dan




More Martial Arts Classes

In addition to karate, other types of marital arts classes to consider include:

  • Judo
  • Jujitsu
  • T’ai Chi
  • Kung Fu
  • Aikido