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Modern karate training is commonly divided into kihon (basics or fundamentals), kata (forms), and kumite (sparring). Another popular division is between art, sport, and self-defense training. Weapons (kobudÅ) comprise another important training area, as well as the psychological elements incorporated into a proper kokoro (attitude) such as perseverance, fearlessness, virtue, and leadership skills. Karateka are encouraged to issue a loud kiai or “spirit shout” when executing techniques.
Kihon (Basics): Karate styles place varying importance on kihon, which typically involve the same technique (or combination of techniques) being repeated by an entire group of karateka. Kihon may also involve prearranged drills between smaller groups, such as pairs, of karateka.
Kata (Forms): Kata (åž‹:ã‹ãŸ) means “form” or “pattern,” and is a set sequence of techniques. Characteristics of these include deep stances to develop leg strength and large body motions to develop cardio-vascular and upper-body fitness and power. Some kata are lengthy and complex, and thus function as training in memory skills and thoughtfulness in the midst of kinetic activity.
Kata are also patterns of techniques that demonstrate physical combat principlesâ€”they may be thought of as a sequence of specific karate movements that address various types of attack and defense under ideal circumstances.
Kata were developed before literacy was commonplace in Okinawa or China, so physical routines were a logical way to preserve this type of information.
The moves themselves may have multiple interpretations as self-defense techniquesâ€”there is no ‘right or wrong’ way to interpret them, but interpretations may have more or less utility for actual fighting. Kata by the same name are often performed with variations between styles, within schools of the same style, or even under the same instructor over time.
There are many types of kata. Depending on the current grade of the karateka, a specific kata must be practiced and ready to perform at a grading for one to grade to the next KyÅ« or Dan level.
Kumite (Sparring): Kumite (çµ„æ‰‹:ãã¿ã¦) literally means “meeting of hands,” and has many incarnations. Sparring may be constrained by many rules or it may be free sparring, and today is practiced both as sport and for self-defense training. Sport sparring tends to be one-hit ‘tag’-type competition for points. Depending on style or teacher, takedowns and grappling may be involved alongside the punching and kicking. Levels of physical contact during sparring vary considerably, from strict ‘non-contact’ to full-contact (usually with sparring armor).
Dojo Kun: In the bushidÅ tradition, a dojo kun is a set of guidelines for kareteka to followâ€”both in the dojo (training hall) and out of the dojo (in everyday life).
Conditioning: Okinawan karate uses traditional conditioning equipment known as hojo undo. These are simple devices, made from wood and stone, such as the makiwara (striking post) or the nigiri game (large jars used for developing grip strength). These supplementary exercises are designed to increase Strength, stamina, speed, and muscle coordination. Sport karate emphasises aerobic exercise, anaerobic exercise, power, agility, flexibility, and stress management.
Sport: Gichin Funakoshi (èˆ¹è¶Š ç¾©ç) said, “There are no contests in karate.” In pre-World War II Okinawa, kumite was not part of karate training. Shigeru Egami relates that, in 1940, some karateka were ousted from their dojo because they adopted sparring after having learned it in Tokyo.
Karate competition has three disciplines: sparring (kumite), empty-handed forms (kata), and weapons forms (kobudÅ kata). Competitors may enter either as individuals or as part of a team. Evaluation for kata and kobudo is performed by a panel of judges, whereas sparring is judged by a head referee, usually with assistant referees at the side of the sparring area. Sparring matches are typically divided by weight, age, gender, and experience.
International competition is well organized. The World Karate Federation (WKF) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as being responsible for karate competition in the Olympic games. The WKF has developed common rules governing all styles. The national WKF organisations coordinate with their respective National Olympic Committees.
Karate does not have 2012 Olympic status. In the 117th IOC Session (July 2005), karate received more than half of the votes, but not the two-thirds majority needed to become an official Olympic sport.
There are other regional, national, and international organizations that hold competitions. The WKF accepts only one organization per country. The World Union of Karate-do Organizations (WUKO) offers different styles and federations a world body they may join, without having to compromise their style or size. The WUKO accepts more than one federation or association per country.
Rank: In 1924, Gichin Funakoshi adopted the Dan system from judo founder Jigoro Kano using a rank scheme with a limited set of belt colors.
In a KyÅ«/Dan system, the beginner grade is a higher-numbered kyÅ« (e.g., 9th KyÅ«) and progress is toward a lower-numbered KyÅ«. The Dan progression continues from 1st Dan (Shodan, or ‘beginning dan’) to the higher dan grades. KyÅ«-grade karateka are referred to as “color belt” or mudansha (“ones without dan”); Dan-grade karateka are referred to as yudansha (holders of dan rank). Yudansha typically wear a black belt.
Requirements of rank differ among styles, organizations, and schools. KyÅ« ranks stress stance, balance, and coordination. Speed and power are added at higher grades. Minimum age and time in rank are factors affecting promotion. Testing consists of demonstration of technique before a panel of examiners. Black belt testing is commonly done in a manner known as shinsa, which includes a written examination as well as demonstration of kihon, kumite, kata, and bunkai (applications of technique).You might also like: