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In the meantime, you might be interested in this short module of karate essentials for beginners!
Karate is an ancient martial art built around self defense that originates from Japan. Karate has many styles and AAMA practices a style called Shito Ryu. This Karate Essentials module will help you begin to understand and practice karate by teaching terms and basic techniques we use in the dojo. It is an insight into what you will do when you first come to training.
Understanding different styles of karate
The style of karate that we practice at AAMA is called Shito Ryu.
AAMA was founded in the 1970s and our history is documented further on our website.
Understanding the elements of karate
- Kihon (Basic techniques)
- Kata (Form or pattern)
- Bunkai (Study of techniques encoded in kata or "kata application")
- Kumite (Free sparring).
Understanding how karate is different to other martial arts
- Karate focuses on striking moves with and on open-handed techniques. Karate combinations involve the use of punches, kicking, knee, and elbow strikes.
- Other martial arts involve different fighting techniques and the use of weapons. Aikido focuses on evasion, joint locks, joint breaks, throws and controls. Judo focuses on throws and some grappling while taking your opponent to the ground. Kung Fu is a Chinese martial art which has various styles that are inspired by animal movements, or by Chinese philosophies, and work to improve muscle and cardiovascular fitness.
- While several martial arts use a ranking system depicted by a belt or sash, karate has a specific system of colored belts. White represents the beginner with black representing an advanced level.
Kihon translates to “basic techniques”, and is the foundation on which karate is built. In kihon, you learn the karate way of punching, blocking, kicking and movement.
At every training session there will be a component of the lesson dedicated to kihon. Whilst it may seem repetitive at times, these blocks, punches, and kicks are vital to being able to perform karate proficiently. The basics include blocks, strikes, kicks, and different stances. Once you have started training with AAMA, you will practice these basic techniques repeatedly so they become ingrained in the body and mind.
Kihon | Fist formation and punches
Karate punches use a straight punch technique with a twist of the wrist at the end near the point of impact.
- Always hit with your first two knuckles, and make sure that your elbow is not locked, because you may overextend it and get hurt.
- Pull the fist that isn't punching back to your waist as you punch. This is called hikite and if timed correctly, your punch will be stronger and sharper.
- Incorporate a kiai. Kiai is broken down into Ki, meaning energy, and Ai, meaning join. It is the sound you often hear when someone makes an attacking movement such as a punch. The purpose of kiai to release your stored energy, creating a greater impact on your attack
Kihon | Zenkutsu dachi (stance) with blocks
In the video below, Sensei will take you through the basics of a training stance called zenkutsu dachi, and then shows you how to use these stances with a number of different blocks. Zenkutsu dachi with gedan barai (downward block) is a common 'ready position' in karate.
Kihon | Oi-tsuki and gyaku tsuki
- Oi-tsuki - also referred to as lunge punch
- Gyaku tsuki - also referred to as reverse punch
Kihon | Blocks
- Jodan (top)
- Shudan (middle)
- Gedan (lower)
In the video below, Sensei will take you through a number of basic blocks:
- Soto uke
- Uchi uke (smashing block)
- Age uke (rising block)
- Gedan barai (downward or sweeping block.
Kihon | Kicks
In the video below, Sensei will take you through two kicks:
- Shomen geri
- Mae geri
Each kata is built around a specific fighting strategy for you to understand and practice against imaginary opponents.
Kata is a way for teachers to pass along knowledge of techniques used in karate. As a student, you will learn to perform a series of blocks, strikes, and kicks together with kata. In the video below, Sensei will take you through one of the basic kata learnt by all beginner students - Sonoba Shiho Waza.
Etiquette and protocol
Karate is not only about the physical - the discipline of karate improves the mind, body and spirit. More indepth information is available on our protocol and etiquette page, but the video below demonstrates just one aspect - that of the ceremony which is conducted at the beginning and end of each class.