Karate may be defined as a weaponless means of self defense. It consists of dynamic offensive and defensive techniques using all parts of the body to their maximum advantage.
Karate practice is divided into:
- Kihon (drilling of stances, blocks, punches, strikes and kicks)
- Kata (pre-arranged forms simulating combat situations)
- Kumite (sparring)
In each category, the beginner is given instruction at the most basic level until the techniques become spontaneous. As the student progresses technically, he or she progresses physically as well, and advanced practices demand greater stamina. At this stage, the student becomes involved with more intricate and difficult katas and more dynamic forms of kumite. As the student approaches black belt level, technique, stamina, speed, and coordination become natural as a result of strong practice. It is at this stage that the serious student discovers that his or her study of karate has only just begun. The object of true karate practice is the perfection of oneself through the perfection of the art.
Karate as self-defense
Karate is one of the most dynamic of all the martial arts. A trained karateka is able to coordinate mind and body perfectly, thereby allowing the unleashing of tremendous physical power at will. Therefore, it is not the possession of great physical strength that makes a strong karateka; rather it is the ability to coordinate mind and body. Upon developing this ability, even the smallest person finds that he or she has within himself or herself the power to deliver a devastating blow to any would-be attacker.
The benefits of karate
In our everyday lives we often forget the value of exercise to both our physical and mental health. The practice of karate tones the body, develops coordination, quickens reflexes, and builds stamina. Also, the serious practice of karate develops composure, a clearer thought process, deeper insight into one's mental capabilities, and more self-confidence. In this, karate is not an end, but a means to an end. It is an activity in which advancing age is not a hindrance. Rather it encourages proficiency in the keen coordination of mind and body.