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25 True Facts About Karate You Need to Know (History, Stats,…)

Anyone can tell you what Karate looks like. Those who have done some form of martial arts will have a deeper understanding of the traditions behind the sport and might have some knowledge of where it comes from and who its creators are. If you are new to martial arts, you might not have much knowledge of Karate, but that’s not the end of the world. As it turns out, it’s never too late to learn something new. 

While it’s great to understand and know the facts about Karate, it must be said that nothing can quite beat the exhilaration of getting involved and learning the art. If this is the first step you are taking in that direction, you will not be disappointed. Karate is far more than just a martial art. It is a way of life for many people. In order to understand the art better and make a real connection with it, I thought I would share the following 25 true facts about Karate with you.

So, here we are…about to find out almost everything there is to know about Karate.

These are 25 facts about Karate:

1. Karate was created in the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Specifically in Okinawa, which is the largest of all the Ryukyu Islands.  

 2. There are more than 100 million Karate practitioners in the world.  

According to the World Karate Federation, there are more than 100 million karate practitioners globally.

3. Gichin Funakoshi is said to be the father of modern Karate.

 Gichin Funakoshi is actually known as the “father of modern karate”. He was born on the 10th of November 1868 and died on the 26th of April 1957. Funakoshi is said to have introduced Karate to the Japanese mainland in 1922.

4. The word comes from “kara”, which means empty and “te”, which means hand.

 The direct translation of Karate would then be “empty hand”.

5. The art is considered a striking art. 

Most people don’t know that different martial art forms come with different descriptions attached. For instance, Karate is a striking art and not a grappling art. A striking art is any type of art that is done standing up and does not allow grappling – even if strikes are allowed on the ground. 

6. Karate practitioners are called karateka.

Anyone who practices Karate is called a “Karateka”. Some of the most well-known Karatekas are Itosu Anko, Gichin Funakoshi, Yoshitaka Funakoshi, Shigeru Egami, Masutatsu Oyama, Fumio Demura, among others.

7. Karate made it to Japan in the early 20th century.

In 1879, the Ryukyu Kingdom was annexed by the Empire of Japan. Karate then made its way to Japan not much longer thereafter, in the 20th century. Many Ryukyuans were migrating from Okinawa, and so the art was taught and rapidly spread.

8. There are four main styles of Karate.

There are actually 4 early styles of Karate that are commonly recognized. These are Shokotan-ryu, Shito-ryu, and Wado-ryu – all of which originate from Shuri, Okinawa. The last one is called Goju-ryu, which originates from Naha.

9. Karate is part of the Summer Olympics.

Karate made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (which was actually held in 2021). The Olympics featured 2 main Karate events called Kata and Kumite.

10. Karate is both a discipline and a self-defense art.

Karate is not strictly a self-defense art; it is also a discipline that is used for mental and physical health. It requires great discipline for a student to progress from one level to the next. 

11. Many people use Karate for fitness.

Many people who practice Karate do it for both the physical workout and the self-defense benefits.

12. Karatekas start with a white belt.

When you first start learning Karate, you will start with a white belt. The longer the student remains in the art and practices, the more belt colors he/she will have. 

13. The average karateka takes around 4 to 5 years to become a black belt.

There is no set limit on how long it must take for a student to reach black belt status. 

14. Shotokan is considered the most popular style of Karate

Most Karate dojos and schools around the world teach Shotokan Karate.

15. Modern Karate focuses on the psychological elements of the art.

In modern Karate, students are taught to focus on the mental and psychological aspects of the art just as much as the physical aspects. It is important for a student to have a balanced mindset and a good mental health status at all times. This is a focus in modern classes. 

16. Karatekas must maintain good self-control at all times.

Karate students are taught to practice self-control. This is important because the methods taught in Karate could be deadly if used in the correct way. Students have to learn that they have this power, but they cannot use it simply because they are frustrated or angry. 

17. A karategi is worn when practicing Karate.

Karategi is the official Japanese name for a Karate uniform. It is typically used for practice and in competitions and consists of lightweight and loose-fitting trousers with a white matching top.

18. A Karate black belt doesn’t necessarily mean mastery.

For Karatekas, earning their black belt is seen as only the first step to mastery.  

19. After World War II, Karate was taught in the USA.

After World War II, American servicemen were taught the art of Karate by Japanese Karate masters. Many of the servicemen went on to use their skills to open dojos in the USA. Japanese instructors were also sent to the US to help make the art grow in popularity. It obviously worked!

20. The first dojo was opened in the United States in 1946.

The very first Shuri-Ryu Karate dojo was opened in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States in 1945 by Robert Trias.

21. Karate is often used to help build confidence in children.

Nowadays, schools offer Karate as an extra-curricular activity to help children get much-needed exercise, learn a self-defense strategy, and also build confidence. Martial art is built on confidence as a student has to trust him/herself in order to take strategic and definitive decisions when in dangerous or confrontational situations. 

22. Karate is agility and strength building.

The more a student practices Karate, the stronger and more agile they become. Karate is actually a great cardio workout, as well as a muscle-building and toning exercise. If you do Karate, there’s not much need for other types of exercise in your life. 

23. Karate is beneficial to children with ADHD.

Children with ADHD often have energy that they don’t know how to control. It is often recommended that the children find activities to channel their energy into. Karate is a high-energy martial art, which teaches children to focus and rewards them as they progress. If you have a child with ADHD, try a few Karate lessons to see how he/she responds. 

24. The Karate Kid fueled Karate’s success in the USA.

When The Karate Kid movie came out in 1984, the popularity of the martial art skyrocketed. Everyone wanted to be just like the Karate Kid, and so more Karate classes were offered, and of course, they were full. 

25. Karate is an art aimed at both body and mind.

Karate is not an art that is aimed at just the mind or just fitness. It is an art that works on the synergy of both body and mind being in synch. Students learn this early on in their training. 

Last Word

Now that you know all there is to know about Karate, do you think it is the art for you or your child? You never know – the best way to figure it out is to book that first class and try it out for yourself!