Related Terms

Budo, Chinese martial arts, judo, jujutsu, kata, kickboxing, kihon, kumite, martial arts.


Karate is a martial art of Okinawan origin. It involves many techniques, including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws and joint manipulations.
The idea behind karate is not to win against the enemy outside the body, but to win against oneself. Karate is used to battle against one's own fear, doubt and indecisiveness. Therefore, it involves both physical and psychological training.
While karate is used as a method of self-defense, those who practice it express respect for their opponent(s).
After mastering the techniques, one can be promoted to the first-degree black belt rank. One can be promoted up to the fourth-degree based on technical excellence. Promotion thereafter is based on one's maturity of technique and dedication to the art. The highest rank, ninth degree, is only given after an individual has studied karate throughout his or her life and achieved maturity (over 60 or 70 years old).

Theory / Evidence

Karate, like any physical activity, is likely to have health benefits. Scientific studies suggest that karate may increase an individual's balance, flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance.

Author information

This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Japan Karate Association Chicago. 11 May 2006.
Sandokai Karate. Kihon-Training Drills. 10 may 2006.
Shotokan Karate of America. 10 May 2006.


Kihon (basics): Kihon is the study of the fundamental techniques, including, punching mechanics, footwork and stances.
Kata (forms): Kata are patterns of defensive and offensive techniques performed against imaginary attacks from different directions. The five elements include: mental control (SHIN), mental energy (SHIN), physical techniques (RYOKU), smoothness in coordination and proper rhythm of the movements.
Kumite (sparring): Students practice karate techniques against an opponent in a controlled environment. Students learn to control their opponent's timing and distance, and to use these factors effectively in a sparring situation.