Tradicionalni karate je nastao u Japanu početkom XVIII veka, kao umeće samoodbrane zvane »Budo«. Kroz trening tradicionalnog karatea vežbači jačajući fizičke i mentalne sposobnosti razvijaju i samokontrolu.. Razumevanjem fizičkih i mentalnih sposbnosti protivnika vežbači ujedno uče i kako izbeći borbu što vodi ka krajnjem cilju »prevenciji sukoba«, a to predstavlja istinsku pobedu.
U početku, karate se razvijao kao forma samodbrane bez oružja, koja se bazira na upotrebi totalne snage tela. U početno vreme su razvijane specifične veštine i sposobnosti različite od do tada poznatih borilačkih veština, a potom je usledilo stvaranje tehničke organizacije čime karate zaokružuje razvoj autentične borilačke veštine.
Fizičke i duhovne koristi ove veštine su prepoznate širom sveta. Vežbači kroz fizički trening razvijaju spoznaju da kontrolom emocija kontrolišu telo.
Karate je usvršavanje tela, uma i emocija. Karate razvija samopouzdanje u mogućnost odbrane jednim »završnim« udarcem (»todome«). Takvo samopouzdanje vodi stabilnim emocijama. stabilne emocije eliminišu negativne emocije, što u krajnjem ishodu daje korist za fizičko i mentalno zdravlje.
U kasnim pedesetim godinama 20 veka karate je bio predstavljen širokoj svetskoj javnosti i postao poznat i priznat širom sveta. Šezdesetih godina, počinju prva karate takmičenja. Međutim kako je tradicionalni karate postajao sve popularniji pojavili su se »novi karate« sportovi koji su koristili nožne i ručne udarce. Dok tradicionalni karate zahteva visok tehnički nivo završnog udarca »todome«, »novi« karate sportovi nemaju ideju o završnom udarcu i bazirani su na izvođenju udaraca nogama i rukama samo u cilju ostvarivanja poena. Postoji velika razlika između tradicionalnog karatea i »drugih-novih« vidova karatea. Danas, tradicionalni karate ima preko 1.500.000 vežbača širom sveta.
Tradicionalni karate je borilačka veština koja nije u direktnoj zavisnosti od fizičke snage tela. Njegova snaga potiče od kombinacije fizičke snage i principa, čija primena uvećava krajnje efekte. Primena principa daje formu, a na nekom nivou trebamo biti oslobođeni od nje bez povrede principa. Šta više moramo u sebi imati sposobnost za kontrolu ne samo sebe nego i protivnika, odnosno moramo imati ideju pobede. Drugim rečima,ne smemo klonutu duhom.
Unoseći princip kontrole u vežbanju, sve što činimo, činimo slobodnom voljom. To je težak put koji sledimo, jer na treningu se susrećemo sa iskušenjima, svi protivnici žele snažno da udare i mi tu sebi možemo da kažemo »predaj se«. Svako želi da pobedi kada počne da trenira karate, mi smo tu stalno pred izazovom da li ćemo izgubiti ili pobediti, ili da odustanemo od svega.
Prolazeći kroz iskustvo pobeda i poraza, postepeno nam se javlja ideja da je jedina ispravna svrha vežbanja Karatea upravo samo vežbanje
Karate is a martial art that is not dependant on muscular strength and hard force, both in technique (kata) and application (kumite). It is the art of giving up muscular strength and after mastering the form (or its principles) we have to give up form or being free from form (without violating it’s principles in any thing we do). Moreover we have to give up ourselves to follow the opponent, or further we have to give up wining. In other words the mind should not interfere. By giving up control, we gain control and every thing we do we will do freely.
This is a hard concept to except because every one wants to hit hard and here you are told to give up your arms or legs. Every one wants to win when they initiate Karate training and here you are told that you are supposed to give up wining and give up yourself. You are told to give up results and to think of the process itself, to practice for the sake of practice. At the first few years with Nishiyama Sensei I remember no compliments, once in a while his stick would hit me and there will be correction, the best compliment was ” so…”, you couldn’t really feel satisfied about yourself. When facing an opponent and practicing “sen” timing (which mean that when the opponent attack I anticipate and respond but ahead) Sensei Nishiyama would say that when we move there is no mind in the technique and “win or lose, only god knows” or he will describe the space between me and my opponent as hell and behind my opponent as heaven, “you must go through hell to go to heaven” he said. About the preparation for “SEN”, Nishiyama Sensei says,” don’t think of the opponent and don’t think of your own technique” or “the eyes look softly (without intention, naturally) the spirit is strong and the attention is to your own feet” all these means that the mind should not stop at one place, should not concentrate should be attentive without effort, naturally. This does not mean that we are to commit suicide and to go blind with the head in the wall, on the contrary, we must except loss and take risk in order to be free and to have clear judgment, than our whole being can participate in whatever we do without conflict. Sensei Nishiyama says that Three things are most important in Karate: eyes, feet and guts.
Whatever the eyes see the feet should express simultaneously without interference of thought or doubt and guts means strong spirit with no hesitation. We can not talk about good use of the body alone because both good technique and especially the function of the technique depends on the right mind and spirit. In karate technique the body has to move as a whole, there is never independent effort of one limb, if one part of the body moves differently than the rest of the body or if one body part stops than the whole body stops. We say that the energy start from the inside out or from the center of the body (tan den) to the outer limbs. The power of Karate Technique depends:
4 On the softness (elasticity) of the muscles and the ability to change from soft to hard (and from hard to soft) in the shortest time (at contact).
4 The coordination of all the muscles and joints to the direction of energy at the right sequence and timing.
4 The right timing of muscle contraction-expansion (relaxation) in relation to the timing of the movement of the joints in the technique.
Very important idea in Karate is the idea of “one chance lose or win” and that’s the reason of the emphasize on todome or finishing blow technique, and that’s why we emphasize so much kime waza or all the energy that accumulated in the technique must be delivered through the target at the moment of contact. Kime means that the whole being mentally and physically hits the target, the whole body connects for the shortest time to one direction, no energy should bounce back or escape. Kime, literally mental and physical together. The softer and more relax we are in movement (relax means just the right amount of tension to carry an activity), the greater the potential of tension at the contact. The more complete the tension at the contact we have, the more potential energy we will have for the next action. From the above we learn that Karate technique is always continuous, the end of one technique is the best condition to begin the next movement and in the stillness the momentum of the last movement still exists. The eyes bring and set the body at the next direction, the image from low stomach and the eyes move together from one direction to another, the breath follows the image (mind), and the body follow the breath, therefore when talking about continuation in the form or application, we mean both mental and technical continuation of the breath as it connects to the feet to make smooth continuation between techniques. We can not talk about being soft if we don’t have a root, therefore in Karate technique we need a strong stance, so we can use a base outside of the body (external force), the energy in Karare technique start from the feet through the legs to the torso to the technique itself. (The technique, arm or leg is considered as an extension of the body, making direction and simply contact tool). If the bottom and top of the body don’t coordinate, not only the technique is weak and top heavy but eventually we will cause back and hips problem. It’s correct to say that the feet are handling the top technique, if we don’t use the feet well than we don’t have a root, we don’t use the external force (base) as well to increase energy from and the only way to create energy is by independent effort of local area which we call top heavy technique, this kind of technique is weak, limited to the muscular ability of a person and surely will cause a person to lose control of his center and to to be thrown of balance. All the joints of the body should be free, as if each bone is separate from the joint near it, then the movement can be free and energy can transmit smoothly and our body become very light and sensitive. The posture is of particular importance, and it does not mean that we have to pose ourselves in a rigid position but we should pay attention to the relationship between neck, head and spine. As the feet are rooted in the floor the head should be suspended on top so the spine is not compressed, only then breath and energy can flow. The mind and body have to coordinate – every movement start with mental direction, line of energy of each technique must be clear, breath following the muscles, then the bones and then the technique (all happening simultaneously). If we don’t have the image than the body can’t cooperate as a whole to one direction and the movement will be disordered. This kind of movement is not a martial art, but merely an aerobic exercise using the form of Karate technique.