Karate is an ancient martial art with incredible roots! It dates back to the ancient east, and while many people will assume it to be a form of fighting that’s largely used in self defense, it’s actually great for helping to manage the mind as well as to develop a sharper sense of focus in everyday life, too. Karate became a huge deal in the west, too, in the 20th century, largely thanks to movies and TV shows picking up on the art. Take a look below for 25 awesome and fun facts about karate.
1. The word ‘karate’ comes from the Japanese words ‘kara’, which means ‘empty’, and ‘te’, which means ‘hand’.
2. Karate was formed as a means of self defense by the islanders of Okinawa in the 17th Century.
3. Several variations of martial arts exist and were formed in Asia. In Okinawa, this was prompted as the use of weapons was forbidden but invaders were met with organized warriors, who had trained to use their hands for combat.
4. At the next summer Olympics, to be held in Japan in 2021, karate will feature as a new addition to the event.
5. Three of the main forms of karate originated from the style of ‘Shorin-Ryun’, which comes from Okinawa. They are known as ‘Wado-Ryu’, ‘Shotokan’ and ‘Shotokan’.
6. It can take up to seven years of intensive training to become a Black Belt in karate. This, in the mainstream sense, is seen as the highest level of mastery in the martial art.
7. Many people, however, can become Black Belts even quicker. It’s all a matter of practice!
8. In some case, Red Belts are seen as the highest level of skill and expertise. It can vary from area to area.
9. The film ‘Enter the Dragon’, released in 1973, starred Bruce Lee and John Saxon, who was a black belt in Karate. The film broke box office records and several films featuring martial art followed. It created something of a fever for martial arts in the 70s!
10. Karate has its own unique uniform. This is called a Gi, and while they are traditionally white, they can vary in different colors and styles all over the world. There are no exact palettes!
11. Karate is also advocated as being beneficial for children with ADHD. It’s seen as a great opportunity for kids to use excess energy in a positive way!
12. Karate is fantastic exercise for the cardiovascular system as well as for the limbs! It’s also great for brain training, as there are lots of movements to consider.
13. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock n’ Roll, progressed through the ranks to become a Black Belt in karate.
14. Bowing in karate is a mark of respect and often accompanied by the word ‘onegaishimasu’, which means ‘please’. It’s often used in the context of ‘please teach me’, directed at an Instructor.
15. Other famous martial arts experts include Guy Ritchie, the movie director. He is a Black Belt in judo, having started learning karate at seven years old.
16. Other famous karate Black Belts include actor Forest Whitaker, ‘Godfather’ legend James Caan, and TV survivalist Bear Grylls.
17. Karate isn’t just great for self defense – it’s a brilliant way of building strength and agility, too.
18. Belts are measured in degrees, or Dans, as well as colors. For example, you can become a 10th Dan Black Belt to be considered the very best.
19. In fact, there is a name reserved for those who reach 9th and 10th Dans at Black Belt standard. These are referred to as Hanshi – which is the highest honor you can receive while studying the art.
20. Dojos are areas in which students learn about and practice karate. The very first US dojo wasn’t opened until 1945!
21. However, there’s no strict rules in place regarding dojos. You can even set up a dojo at home – providing it is a place in which you learn karate at your own speed!
22. Many believe that the 1980s movie ‘The Karate Kid’ is responsible for the art’s huge surge in popularity in the US. This led on from fever surrounding ‘Enter the Dragon’, making the 70s and 80s a magical time for martial arts enthusiasts.
23. ‘The Karate Kid’ has earned its place in western pop culture. It was remade only a few years ago, and a spin-off TV series, ‘Cobra Kai’, is still running.
24. Of all the different types of karate, Shotokan is thought to be the most popularly taught.
25. Many people assume that karate is a physical art. However, much of it requires patience and mindful energy. Therefore, plenty of people find it relaxing as well as a great way to expend of pent-up energy!