Is Karate a Safe Sport?

Karate is a martial arts that has immensely earned the favour of kids and adults in almost similar levels. Karate enables individuals to become active and physically fit as they use kicks and punches to defend themselves. Besides, it presents a wide array of benefits to those involved. It offers participants a chance to develop focus and master essential techniques to counteract hits. The stamina and confidence of participants develops too while engaging in the sport at different levels.

As opposed to many current forms of martial sports, Karate is a safe sport to undertake. If you are reluctant about enjoying this sport or worried that your child will be exposed to major injuries, it is time to shed off that mentality. In this article, we focus on 4 reasons regarding how Karate is a safe sport.  For more on the topic , check out Healthy Children’s blog looking at the martial art: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/Pages/Martial-Arts.aspx

1. A weapon less form of self-defence

In practicing Karate, there are no weapons incorporated. The hands and feet are the ‘weapons’ used to enhance self-defence during the actual Karate endeavour. Hence the use of hands and feet translates to a sport that is devoid of harm thus very safe.

2. Injuries are very minimal

Although injuries can occur during Karate sessions, they can be avoided making the sport safe. It all depends on the Karate skills a person possesses. Hardly do skilled Karate enthusiasts get injuries when participating in this sport. The injuries if any, are very minimal. In most cases, individuals only sustain few minor injuries such as bruises and cuts. This is because skilled Karate people are guided by qualified Karate instructors who assist in preventing occurrence of injuries. The instructors extend useful advice and knowledge to individuals on the best techniques for kicking and punching. Further, they advise people on application of the right force to avoid injuries to opponents. They also nurture a spirit of self-control in trainees all in an effort to prevent serious injuries.

3. Protective and safety gear

The good thing about Karate as a sport is that it observes safety standards. People are allowed to wear headgear to avoid head injuries if there are high chances of flying kicks and high jumps. Other protective equipment such as mouth guards and body pads also make Karate a safe sport for people to partake of.  

4. Safety Flooring

It is also crucial for every karate establishment to utilise safety flooring to make certain that those participating in the sport remain safe in the event of any falls or tackles that may occur. Whilst some companies use safety mats, arguably the best safety surfacing to use is wet pour surfacing as this is an impact absorbing surface that once installed, doesn’t have to be moved or packed away like safety mats do.

5.  Warm Up Sessions

Warm up sessions precede actual Karate sessions. The warm up sessions are meant to instill flexibility prior to commencement of Karate sessions. This is crucial as it reduces the chances of injury manifestation thus enhancing the safe nature of Karate. 

Analysing the Background of Shito-ryu

Shito-ryu is among the many kinds of karate martial art. It was launched by Kenwa Mabuni in 1931. The history if its evolution provided here under will help you to know it more closely.

Kenwa Mabuni, the originator of Shito-Ryu Karate was born in 1889 in Shuri, Okinawa. He was a successor of the well-known fighter Uni Ufugusuku Kenyu in 17th generation. He perhaps started his instructions in the skill of Shuri-te in his place of birth at an age of 13 years, due to his delicate structure, under the guidance of the famous artist Ankō Itosu. This great master thoroughly trained him for several years and he learned many kata from him. The Pinan kata was first of all developed by Itosu which was supposed to be derived from the form of “Kusanku”.

Chōjun Miyagi, one of Kenwa Mabuni’s close friends, has introduced him to Kanryō Higaonna, another great master of that period. Though both the masters taught him Okinawan “Te” in a hard-soft style but their focus and methods were quite different. The syllabus of Itosu included powerful and straightforward techniques found in Bassai and Naihanchi Kata whereas the syllabus of Hingaonna focused on shorter fighting methods and circular motions found in Kuruunfa and Seipai Kata. Mabuni included both soft and hard techniques while developing Shito-ryu.

Though later on Mabuni took vital and quite effective instructions from various other good teachers but he truly and closely followed the instructions of his first two masters. Actually he was famous for his knowledge about Kata and their application in Bunkai and for this reason he was observed as the best authority on the history of Okinawan kata in 1920s. He was considered by his contemporaries in China, mainland Japan and Okinawa as the most required teacher of Okinawan kata. He also taught enforcement of local officers to how to become good police officers and many reputed grammar schools in Naha and Shuri at the request of Itosu, his teacher.

In 1929 Mabuni moved to the mainland of Osaka and became the instructor of his half hard style which was originally called Hanko-ryu. In order to honour his main references the names of this style was later on changed into Shito-ryu. This name was derived from the names of Higaonna and Itosu, his two main teachers. He started a number of dojo for Shito-ryu in Osaka area including the Karatedō-kai dojo in Japan and at Kansai University with the help of Ryusho Sakagami. Till date, Osaka is considered as the largest contingent in Japan for the practitioners of Shito-ryu.

Later on Mabuni continued to organize instruction methods and circulated many books on Shito-ryu. He also created kata in many forms like Aoyogi which were especially designed for the self defense of women. In the past century, Mabuni was perhaps the most popular master in the history of Karate-do. He forwarded his thinking all through the world to spread his art form Shito-ryu. The influence of Higaonna and Itosu can be seen in the syllabus of Shito-ryu until today.

The Basics of Karate

Although Karate is not at all like dancing, it is true too that many Karate masters are good dancers. These Karate Kid series were better than Dragons or any other hard-boiled Karate movies, because they carry some true principles about Karate, as a form of martial art.

Despite that there is no change on the basics of Karate defense that avoid a fight, run away from a fight, and ask for help, there are unique characteristics about Karate defense.

As many Karate masters are good dancers as mentioned above, I know some achieved high performance in dancing contests. They say the dancing movement is very similar to defense techniques.

This is right from 3 viewpoints.
1. A defense technique is not blocking strikes by applying a force from opposite direction. The defense base movement is to move to the same direction of an attack and weakens the power of the strike.
2. To defend an attack, you do not need to use your force. You can use your enemy’s force for attacking.
3. You do not have to move back or side too much. You are not going to be hit or kicked if they fell one-tenth inch (1/10″) away from your body.

Let us examine one by one.
1. You move to the same direction of an attack.
Suppose you are hitting a wooden board, first. If you hit hard, the wooden board will be broken. This is why the board was staying still in the same position and hit. Now, suppose you are hitting a willow tree branch, which comes down, and float in the air. No matter how hard you hit it. It will not be broken like a wooden board. The willow branch is moving in the same direction as your attack.

2. Do not use your force, use your opponent’s force.
If you try to block an attack with your force, you need to have a stronger force than the attack. Do you think you are the most powerful in the world? There is no assurance that your opponent’s attack is not more powerful than your defense. If you use your opponent’s force to move in the same direction as his attack, you do not need to be as powerful as your opponent. This is the mechanism less powerful people can defeat big and powerful opponents.

3. Keep just one-tenth inch away from the reach of attack.
No matter how powerful your opponent attack could be, if you are not hit, you are not damaged. Not to be hit, you do not have to be feet away from the attack reach. You keep in mind that you are safe when your position is one-tenth to one inch (1/10 – 1 inch) away from the reach. You do not need to waste your energy jumping around to take your distance.

Now you have an image of defense. Keep same distance with your opponents and move to the direction of his movement. Relax and use no force. Do not you think it is similar to something? It looks really like dancing with your partner.

An Introduction to Karate

Karate is a sport and system of unarmed self-defence which originated in eastern Asia and involves the use of the hands, elbows, and knees, or feet for kicks and blows to vulnerable parts of the body such as temples, throat, and groin. Karate should not be confused with a similar Asian sport, ju-jitsu, sumo, and judo which involve wrestling, throwing, and holding an opponent on the ground.

Karate during the seventies was actually referred to as an acrobatic boxing. This involves a little personal contact, and the opponent becomes immobile because of powerful and well-directed blows which are delivered far from the opponent as possible. Experts in Karate can crush a large block of ice using his fist, he can splinter a six-inch thick pine wood by a single kick, and he can shatter stacks of tiles using his head or an elbow.

Calisthenics, an area in karate, involves rigorous, acrobatic flexibility and speed. Another area in karate is called Kumite which involves training in specific karate blows, kicks, chops or blocks with the use of one’s knuckles, the ball and outside edge of the foot and the blade of the hand.

This sport can strengthen the extended fingers which can be very effective when used as a spear point. Katas, which is the third area in karate involves acrobatic forms of kicking, punching, blocking, turning, leaping, dodging and are often practice with an imaginary adversary. Those who are trained in karate school or dojo are barefoot on the wooden floor without mats when they do their training.

 Punching bags, weights, bamboo blocks, and deep boxes of any dry beans or coarse sand used to strengthen the extended fingers of the hand. A loose-fitting jacket and pants called GI is the traditional costume in karate.

The rank of someone who does karate can be indicated by the colour of his belt. Black belts are of course for experts and those using white belts are amateurs. Next to the beginner are the following in respective order – yellow, green and brown. The holders of black belts also have different degrees which are based on their skills and effectivity in teaching. Today, schools are only up to the 8th Dan.

Karate is still to this day very popular, however the sport was incredible popular during the seventies. Many movies were released like Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and David Carradine’s Kung Fu. The spirit of this sport has not died today. In fact, there are still movies today that are patterned using this theme. The most recent are the newly released Karate Kid’s third installment with Jackie Chan and Jayden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

In addition to this, plenty of animated kids TV shows have adopted  the sport into their storylines including the very popular Kung Fu Panda and Spongebob and Sandy’s famous Karate scenes (a snippet is shown in the video below) from the hit show Spongebob Squarepants.

The inclusion of this sport in kids shows has lead to a massive increase in participation of the sport from youngsters globally, which is proving crucial for the sport. In general, Karate has never been in a better place. Its a great time for kids and adults alike to get involved!