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History of Karate



Introduction | History | Technique and Training | Instruction and Achievement | Competition




            KARATE (Japanese, “empty hand”) , martial art of unarmed self-defense in which directed or focused blows of the hands and feet, accompanied by special breathing and shouts, are dealt from poised positions.  More than a method of combat, karate emphasizes self-discipline, positive attitude, and high moral purpose as said on another page in the manual. It is taught professionally at different levels, and under different Asian names, as a self-defense skill, a competitive sport, and a free-style exercise.


            We in the United Scorpion Karate Association recognize Karate, Japanese in origin, and Taekwondo, Korean in origin as the preeminent martial arts, an unequaled method of empty hand self-defense that is also highly artistic in their execution. Karate techniques have evolved more than 1000 years to achieve the greatest speed, power, and artistic beauty.




            The art of karate is more than 1000 years old and originated in eastern Asia, first as monastic training and later as a defense method used by Chinese peasants against armed bandits. During the 17th century it became highly developed as an art on the island of Okinawa, Japan. In 1922 karate was introduced to the Japanese public by Okinawan, Funakoshi Gichin, and the art is today chiefly associated with Japan. It was introduced into the U. S. after World war 11. Many types, including Korean (tae kwon do) and Chinese styles, are taught in the U. S.




            Karate is related to judo and jujutsu, but stresses techniques for striking, with lethal kicks and punches, rather than wrestling or throwing an opponent. as explained on another page in the manual in different words. The three essentials of power, speed and accuracy are vital to karate expertise and developing technique.  Constant alertness and a keen sense of timing and surprise are also requisites.


            Great attention is given to knowing the most vulnerable points of the human body, which may be attacked by the hands, elbows, knees, or feet. These areas include the face, neck, solar plexus, spinal column, groin, and kidneys. In ordinary karate competitions or exhibitions, only the area of the body above the waist is allowed as a target, and all blows are to be pulled. The most common blows used are chops or knife hands, knuckle punches, hammer blows, finger jabs, and front, side, back, round, jump, and snapping kick.  In actual fighting, any of these blows can be fatal. The ability of a karate master to break boards or bricks with a chop of the bare hand is proverbial.


            The karate trainee toughens hands and feet by driving them into containers of sand, rice, or gravel and by striking sandbags and special punching boards. Constant exercises are important for limbering up and for strengthening the muscles of the body. Deep breathing exercises are also useful because exhalation and sudden shouts accompany the directed blows, particularly the final or so called blows. Such breathing and cries help the rhythm of the karate attack, focus more force in each blow or block, and psychologically invigorate a person while disconcerting the opponent.




            The language of karate is chiefly Japanese. A karate training hall or gym is called a dojo, and the white, pajama like garment worn in all training is called the gi. More than 200 specific Japanese terms are used for the various blows and moves that are employed in formal exercises called kata. A top karate instructor is known as a sensei. Most sensei must train for years to reach this level.


            Degrees of achievement are formally recognized in scorpion karate training, each represented by a cloth belt of a particular color worn around the gi, the usual colors being, in ascending order, white, white yellow, yellow, green, green blue, blue, brown, red, recommended black belt and black belt. Qualifications and colors for belts differ from school to school, depending upon the style and standard of karate taught.


            The black belt, or dan, signifies the highest proficiency in karate. Like the other belts the black belt is qualified by degrees of honor or skill, with the tenth being the highest dan.




            The Japan Karate Association, established by Funakoshi in 1949, held the first all-Japan karate championships in 1957. Since then the association has become an international organization, with affiliated karate clubs around the world. Karate schools have also come into being, particularly in the U. S., where it has become highly popular as a sport and a method for self-protection. Karate has also been incorporated in training programs for police, soldiers, and college athletes.


            No international karate organization exists, largely because of the difficulties in standardizing the many different schools and styles of karate. In the U. S., although no single organization conducts official national competitions, hundreds of tournaments are held each year throughout the country. Among the best known are the annual American championships of the Japan Karate Association, held usually on the West Coast or in Hawaii, and the All-American Open Karate Championships, held annually at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The United Scorpion Karate Association (USKA) pledges itself to contributing to the art of Karate providing leadership and instruction in an ancient  discipline that represents an alternative allowing practitioners to avoid the stresses and pitfalls of life in this modern age and by strengthening their minds and bodies. This mission will be undertaken within the guidelines of our tenets: Self-Control, Courage, Opportunity, Respect, Perseverance, Integrity, and Obviate. Note: The USKA will like to thank Master Funakoshi -Gichin martial arts historian.