Karate developed in Okinawa many centuries ago. Okinawa is a Japanese island but in the past Okinawa didn't belong to Japan.
The word 'karate' comes from the Japanese language and it means 'empty hand'. It refers to the fact that you don't need any weapons in your hands to be able to defend yourself.
There are many different styles of Karate. Some of the most popular or best known are: Shotokan, Goju-Ryu, Wado-Ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu , Shorin-Ryu, and many more.
In our karate club we practise Shotokan karate.
Shotokan Karate is one of the most popular karate styles taught around the world. This style of Karate focuses on different blocks, punches, hand/elbow strikes, knee strikes, kicks and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands.

The symbol of Shotokan karate is a Shotokan Tiger.

The founder of Shotokan karate was master sensei Funakoshi (1868-1957) from Okinawa island who is known as a "father of modern karate". He introduced karate to Japan mainland and capital city Tokyo in 1922. He became honorary head of the Japan Karate Association upon its establishment in 1949. One of his best students, sensei Nakayama, an internationally famous Japanese karate master,  worked hard to spread Shotokan karate around the world. Another - important for us - Japanese karate master was sensei Enoeda, a shining student of Nakayama who was sent to England in 1965 to spread karate in the UK. After sensei Enoeda’s death in 2003, Sensei Ohta (7th Dan) took over as Chief Instructor of the JKA England.

As Karate is a Japanese martial art we try to keep the Japanese traditions in our dojo, so we wear a white karategi (traditional karate uniform), we take off our shoes before entering the dojo and we train karate barefoot.  We use lots of Japanese words and we usually count in Japanese from 1 to 10. Each class starts and finishes with a bowing ceremony (it’s a gesture of mutual respect) and ‘mokuso’ – silent breathing exercise in ‘seiza’ position (tradition Japanese sitting position).

Karate is not only about blocks, kicks and punches! Sensei Funakoshi said: ‘The ultimate aim of karate is the perfection of character’.
A real karateka behaves well not only in the dojo but also outside the dojo in day-to-day life. A real karateka builds a good character through discipline, spirit of fair play, rigorous training and perfecting karate techniques through repetition and concentration.

In our club we follow the dojo rules set by karate master sensei Funakoshi:

-SEEK PERFECTION OF CHARACTER! - this means : Try hard to show perfect behaviour. Try hard to develop high moral character. Be calm and focused! Be modest – that means be proud of your accomplishments but do not act superior to others.

-BE SINCERE! – this means: Be honest, trustworthy and reliable so that the others can trust, rely on and count on you at all times! Be real, not fake! Behave righteously in both word and action! Do not lie. Do not cheat!

- PUT MAXIMUM EFFORT INTO EVERYTHING YOU DO! - this means: give 100% of your effort in every karate training, and in everything you do in your life. Try to do everything the best you can!

-RESPECT OTHERS! - this means: respect your sensei and the karate students who train with you. Don't disturb the other karate students by being noisy and chatting away! Respect your parents and other people in your life. Be careful not to hurt anybody by accident, by being rough when playing or saying something. Have respect for other people’s feelings. Help someone out, don’t laugh at their mistakes. Be polite and show good manners!

-DEVELOP SELF-CONTROL! – this means you must not be aggressive! You must never use your karate skills to harm the other people only because you get angry with them. You must learn how to control yourself and your emotions. You should only use your karate skills to defend yourself, when someone attacks you and you have to fight for your life.

Karate Belt Grades in Japan Karate Association (JKA)

Grades in Karate are called ‘Kyu’ (pronounce: Q). When you start to train karate, you wear a white belt and you are classified as 10th Kyu which is a beginner's level.

There are 10 Kyu levels -coloured belt levels for karate students before they reach the Black Belt (1st Dan) master level. Kyu levels go down from 10th Kyu to 1st Kyu.