Konnichiwa! Guten Tag! My name is Leon. I am doing an internship at SUITO Fukuoka. I am from Germany and currently living in Fukuoka. During my time in Japan, I want to experience the Japanese culture from inside. As part of getting to know all kinds of customs and traditions, I decided to take Karate lessons once a week. Because SUITO Fukuoka is one of the best places for cultural experience, I am going to share my Karate experience with you.
In Japan martial arts are very popular. There are numerous kinds of martial arts for example Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kendo or Taekwondo. Karate was made for self-protection. Theoretically there is no first attack in Karate. The Karate moves and choreographies are called Kata (型). Kata literally means form. In Karate properly fighted Katas are essential. But it depends on the Karate style. There are different kinds of Karate. My Karate is Shōtōkan Karate. It is not full contact karate. For example like Kyokoshin Karate. In Shōtōkan Karate the techniques are most important. Also every move can be used for defense or offense.
I have never practiced Karate before. I started from the beginning and learned basic steps first. The basic steps are called Kihon (基本). What I learned was that it is typical for Shōtōkan Karate to have a strong and stable position. Like you are a tree deeply rooted into the ground. The inventor of Shōtōkan Karate, Gichin Funakoshi (1868 - 1957), was well-known for having a strong and stable position. This is why his Karate students called him Shōtō. Sho (松) means pine tree. In Okinawa, where he used to live, there are strong well-rooted pine trees . Just like him.
Shōtōkan Karate is always aiming the vertical center line of the enemies body. From the chin to the solar plexus to the genitals. Usually, every kick and strike of a Shōtōkan Karate student aims one of this body areas. Moreover, the foot in the back is important. It initiates most of the moves.
Special about my Karate style is that you are supposed to stop right before hitting your opponent. The name is Sundome Karate. Despite this fact, it is similiar to Shōtōkan Karate. It is good for beginners. Quickly I gained an understanding of this martial art. I rehearsed the techniques at home. This kind of activity is good for body and mind. It is good for my tendons and joints. And it is good for gaining power and confidence. At the end of the lesson we go full contact just for fun. In Karate a one-on-one is called Kumite (組み手). At the beginning I was cautious, but now I can attack properly. When I attack, the other defends. Also I wasn’t used to scream during every move. That changed too. The scream is supposed to pool your strength.
Originally it is Karate-Do. Like in Ju-Do, Aiki-Do or Taekwon-Do. It is better to say Karate-Do, because there is a meaning behind it. Do (道) means the road or the way. Don't think of Karate as a numb variation of moves that you learn out of a textbook. Whether you’re doing Kihon, Kata or Kumite, you should always remind yourself of Karate’s purpose. You should be able to adapt you’re fighting skills to any situation. You should push yourself forward. That’s the Do.
Don’t fear going slow. Fear to stop going forward.