The philosophy behind karate is vast and complex. It stems from thousands of years of armed and unarmed combat. Techniques that were perfected hundreds of years ago are still being perfected over and over again by each new generation. Buddhism, Taoism, and the code of Bushido have all played parts in the development of the martial arts philosophy. Karate in its modern form was established around 400 years ago in Japan, with its roots mainly derived from Chinese Kung Fu.
This martial art has its roots in China, but was largely developed in Okinawa, Japan in the 1600’s as a method for self-defence due to weapons being outlawed. Karate can be translated to “empty hand.” There are many styles of Karate from traditional, to modern, western styles known usually as American Freestyle Karate, and Full-Contact Karate (Sport Karate), but many of the basic techniques are the same. Some of the more popular styles are:
Training in Karate generally involves four aspects, or fundamentals. These fundamentals are the different forms of movements that make up combinations and techniques practiced in Karate.
People often confuse different styles of martial arts, and interchange the names of these martial arts. It can be easy to confuse Karate with other martial arts, especially because so many arts employ similar techniques.
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.
Kata translates to "forms" and builds upon the basic techniques you have learned. With kata, you learn to combine the basic techniques in a flowing movement.
Bunkai translates to “analysis” or “disassembly”, and involves working with others to understand the real world application of a kata.
Kumite means sparring, and allows students to practice the techniques learned in Karat against one another, and oftentimes in tournaments.
Karate punches use a straight punch technique with a twist of the wrist near the point of impact.
Kalaripayattu is a martial art which originated as a style in Kerala during the 13th Century ADThe word kalari first appears in Sangam literature to describe both a battlefield and combat arena. The word kalari tatt denoted a martial feat, while kalari kozhai meant a coward in war. Each warrior in the Sangam era received regular military training. It is considered to be one of the oldest fighting system in existence. It is now practiced in Kerala, in contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu. It was originally practiced in northern and central parts of Kerala and the Tulunadu region of Karnataka.Kalaripayattu has three regional variants that are distinguished by their attacking and defensive patterns.
Northern kalaripayattu (vadakkan kalari) is practised mainly in North Malabar. It places more emphasis on weapons than on empty hands.Parashurama, sixth avatar of Vishnu, is believed to be the style's founder according to both oral and written tradition. Masters in this system are usually known as gurukkal or occasionally as asan, and were often given honorific titles, especially Panikkar. The northern Brahmin immigrants contributed their skills through the "Salai"s which were educational institutions imparting various branches of knowledge including military arts.
The northern style is distinguished by its meippayattu - physical training and use of full-body oil massage. The system of treatment and massage, and the assumptions about practice are closely associated with Ayurveda. The purpose of medicinal oil massage is to increase the practitioners' flexibility, to treat muscle injuries incurred during practice, or when a patient has problems related to the bone tissue, the muscles, or nerve system. The term for such massages is thirumal and the massage specifically for physical flexibility Chavutti Thirumal which literally means "stamping massage" or "foot massage". The masseuse may use their feet and body weight to massage the person.
There are several lineages/styles (sampradayam), of which 'thulunadan' is considered as the best. In olden times, students went to Tulunadu kalari's to overcome their defects (kuttam theerkkal). There are schools which teach more than one of these traditions. Some traditional kalari around Kannur for example teach a blend of arappukai, pillatanni, and katadanath styles.
Varma Kalai of Tamil Nadu is classified as Southern Kalaripayattu in South Kerala. The Southern Kalari masters are known as asaan.The stages of training are chuvatu (solo forms), jodi (partner training/sparring), kurunthadi (short stick), neduvadi (long stick), katthi(knife), katar (dagger), valum parichayum (sword and shield), chuttuval (flexible sword), double sword, kalari grappling and marma(pressure points). The southern style, was practiced largely by the Nadars and has features distinguishing it from its other regional counterparts.
Zarrilli refers to southern kalaripayattu as varma ati (the law of hitting), marma ati (hitting the vital spots) or varma kalai (art of varma). The preliminary empty handed techniques of varma ati are known as adithada (hit/defend). Marma ati refers specifically to the application of these techniques to vital spots. Weapons include bamboo staves, short sticks, and the double deer horns. Medical treatment in the southern styles is identified with siddha the traditional Dravidian system of medicine distinct from north Indianayurveda. The Siddha medical system, otherwise known as siddha vaidyam, is also attributed to Agastya.
The Madhya Kalari (central style) of kalaripayattu is practiced mainly in the Northern parts of Kerala. Its diverse distinctive techniques, with heavy emphasis on application, are performed within floor paths known as kalam. The Madhya(central) Kalari has many different styles which place heavy emphasis on lower body strength and speed through thorough practice of various chuvadu, only after which participants advance into weaponry and advanced studies.