Karate is a form of self-defence that uses a wide range of blocking, punching and kicking techniques. There are no weapons involved in practicing karate and the term “karate” literally means “empty hand”. Through hard training and practice, karate develops not only the body but also the mind and character.
Shotokan karate is one of the most widely practiced forms of karate in the world today, and one of the most traditional. Introduced to Japan from Okinawa, Shotokan puts heavy focus on basic techniques (kihon), forms (kata), and sparring (kumite) to develop a range of powerful and dynamic techniques.
Basics - (known as Kihon)
This is the practice of individual moves - blocks, punches, kicks and strikes or short combinations of techniques. This develops the most effective and safest way to perform the elements used in Karate. The moves are broken down and done slowly to start with before building up the speed and power.
Drills/forms (known as Kata)
A kata is a series of set moves against imaginary opponents. Through repeated practice the pattern becomes second nature, done with little conscious attention.
Kata not only contains the techniques, but also the principles of Karate. For example the first kata will teach how to move in front stance, and the difference in body position for a block and a strike. More advanced katas show how to turn a disadvantage to advantage, or how to lure the opponent into a trap. After practicing each many times, the movements will eventually become automatic and instinctive.
Kata can practiced almost anywhere, anytime. You do not need large space, partners or special equipment.
Sparring (known as Kumite)
"Kumite" refers to several forms of sparring. Each method introduces more principles of sparring - distance, timing, evasion etc. So forming “building blocks” to help maintain a safe training environment.
Karate training is designed to give its practitioners the ability to deliver devastating power through techniques like punches and kicks. However, this clearly would make it impossible to find anyone willing to spar against! Therefore, whilst sparring in Karate, the aim is to deliver strikes with the maximum speed and power possible, but to stop them at the moment of contact (or just before contact, at lower levels of experience) so that your partner is not injured. Far from rendering the sparring pointless, this method of training greatly improves the control over strikes, which is an invaluable skill when combined with the ability to deliver a forceful strike.