Japanese Martial Arts: Karate

Karate-from-JapanKarate, in Japanese (空手), means open hand; or empty hand. It is mainly a striking art which employs punches, open hand techniques, kicks, palm heel, knee and elbow strikes. Traditionally, grappling, throwing, locking, restraining, and striking vital point can also be a part of this combat art form.

Karate originated in the Southern-most region of Japan, namely, Okinawa. It is probably one of the most popular forms of martial arts around the world. This is probably due to the fact that, after the Second World War, American troops settled in Okinawa and established an American Military Base which still today exists. While living there, many American soldiers took an interest in the art form and began learning it and started spreading it all over the United States. Given the heavy cultural influence that the US holds over the whole world, known in some contexts as Cultural Imperialism, Karate began to grow not only in the States, but also in Europe and South America and the Caribbean. At the same time, due to the mass migration of Japanese families to the American Continent, many people who had learned and become proficient in Karate back in Japan started teaching it in the US, and even opening up their own schools and martial arts instruction centers.

Karate was later developed and added by the Japanese but the roots of Karate are with the indigenous people native to the Ryukyu Islands. Initially, these islands in southern Japan had been heavily influenced by the Chinese, culturally, economically, linguistically and in many other aspects. As such, martial arts practiced in these region of Japan were also influenced by the Southern Chinese culture and one predominant martial art in the area was the Fujian White Crane. Karate was influenced by this martial art to a great extent.

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