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About Karate

A Little History

Karate, meaning "empty hand", is a system of unarmed combat which originated on the island of Okinawa, to the south of Japan. It was developed in response to a ban on carrying weapons, and for many years was practised in secret. After Okinawa and the other islands in the Ryukyu kingdom became part of Japan in the late nineteenth century, the art moved into the open, and the great master Anko Itosu introduced it into high schools. In 1922 master Gichin Funakoshi, one of Itosu's students, went to mainland Japan and demonstrated his art to great acclaim. Funakoshi's style of karate became known as Shotokan, and this is the form that we practise in our clubs. You can read more about Shotokan karate on Wikipedia by clicking here.


Training in karate can provide many benefits:

  • Increased stamina and fitness
  • Improved coordination and balance
  • Confidence in everyday life
  • Useful self defence techniques
  • The satisfaction of learning a new skill
  • It's fun!


Karate training is broken down into three areas:

  • Kihon (Basics) Learning the basic techniques of punching, blocking, kicking and striking, and then putting them together into combinations.
  • Kata (Forms) These are set sequences of moves, that get more complex as you progress. Traditionally, learning kata and how to apply them to real life situations was the only way in which karate was practised.
  • Kumite (Sparring) Shotokan karate has a carefully graduated scheme of partner work, which builds confidence and technique before moving on to fully free fighting. Some forms of karate use full contact, but in the SKA we teach that control is of vital importance.