Karate-Do (Empty Hand Way/Path)

Karate has been practiced as a martial art for over 100 years. The discipline developed on the Japanese island of Okinawa, evolving from the Chinese martial arts that travelers introduced there. In the early 1900's, teachers were invited to mainland Japan to develop karate as part of the educational system.

Students practiced conditioning, strengthening, and range of motion exercises to prepare their bodies for blocking/parrying, footwork, and striking with the hands and feet. Self-defence training also included strikes with other parts of the body and using joint-locking techniques on an opponent.

In the 1950's, Japanese karate senseis (teachers) started to travel to other countries to establish karate dojos (schools). Many different styles and associations developed, usually led by a major karate sensei or shihan (master).

One of the most popular karate styles, Shotokan, was developed by karate master Gichin Funakoshi, 1868-1957. Invited to Japan in 1922, Funakoshi's method quickly caught on in the universities. By the mid 1950's, Sensei Funakoshi's main group had incorporated as the Japan Karate Association, and tournaments in both kata (forms) and kumite (free-sparring) were being held.

Today, many associations and independent schools teach the Shotokan style. Kuma Karate-Do teaches Shotokan kata with influence from Takayuki Kubota, 10th Dan (level of Black Belt), president of the International Karate Association (IKA), and Takemasa Okuyama, 9th Dan, General Director of the IKA. The IKA was established in Japan in 1953.

As a member school of the sport-governing body World Karate Federation (WKF, www.wkf.net), KUMA Karate-Do follows WKF guidelines regarding kata. This organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee, and one of the WKF's goals is to establish technical standards for the major styles of karate that competitors represent, including Shotokan.

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