Karate is a method of weaponless combat in which the exponents utilize the techniques of blocking, punching, striking, and kicking for the purpose of self-defense. The Japanese word “karate-do” translates as “the way of empty-hands.” “Kara” reflects not only empty-hand or weaponless fighting, but also the state of the “empty-mind” (mushin) which is sought after through disciplined training. There are three elements of martial arts training, kihon, kata, and kumite:
1 — Kihon. Basic techniques of stances, blocks, punches, strikes, kicks, body-shifting skills, body conditioning, bone hardening and stamina are learned during this phase of practice.
2 — Kata. These are formal exercises of karate that have been passed down from past generations. Kata consist of prearranged techniques of defense and counterattack executed against imaginary opponents. Their purpose is to develop precision movement and smooth transitions through the various techniques as well as to expand the student’s familiarity with almost infinite possibilities for their application.
3 — Kumite. Sparring is an exercise mimicking actual combat. It is an opportunity for two students who wish to sharpen reflexive application of techniques using correct distance and timing. Safety is stressed in that all techniques are stopped short of contact until experience is gained.