What is Karate?


The usual question Karate Instructors get asked, often followed by “Is it the one with the kicks and punches?”

Most instructors respond to this by reciting the history of karate as they were told by their own instructor or regurgitate the contents of a book or manual instead of actually answer the question. (as an aside, this history is usually unfinished or incorrect).


Is Karate just kicking and punching?

No!! Karate was a mixture of the fighting arts in developed in Okinawa and other countries that traded with the Islands… making it a Mixed Martial Art (MMA) hundreds of years before the modern UFC style tournaments were ever thought of!!

True karate does not impose any limitations on techniques, if a movement can be used in combat then it is Karate. Punches, kicks, elbows, knees, arm locks, grappling, ground fighting and even head-butts are all valid karate techniques. Karate is not what you do, but how you do it!

Often, karate training techniques are labelled as not being effective for use in a real life situation, it should be remembered that karate training is not a constant barrage of real life situations! A large portion of training up to black belt is purely educational, with reference to the body, and how it works, increased control and body conditioning. It is the process of going through the years of this training which enable you to perform techniques required in a real life situation.


At the end of the day, karate is whatever you want it to be….

As long as a student of Karate is truthful about their reasons for training, they should be able to find a club with an instructor capable of providing them the education and guidance to achieve their goals. A good instructor’s first question should always be “Why do you wish to train and what do you want to get from it?”

If you want to get fit, Karate will help, but you will only get out what you’re prepared to put in.

  • If you want to learn self defence, Karate will always prove beneficial, but an instructor who specialises in self-defence and street bunkai should be found.
  • If you want to learn how to smash through wood, then yes; some Karate training will involve this (though not generally within the Bushido Martial Arts Association!).
  • If you want to gain confidence, the right Karate instructor can help you.
  • If you want to win competitions, then yes; a more sport-oriented club will help you to achieve this.


At its base level, Karate is the study of movement and psychology…

How you use the knowledge and ability gained from training depends on you as an individual, the karate itself is really the study of these two elements. At Bushido Hombu we do not limit ourselves or demand our clubs stick to one style; the Hombu (Head Club) trains in what we call Generic Karate. All techniques are allowed and all body parts can be used.

If you are however looking for a particular style of karate, there are other clubs within the association that specialise in many of these styles by preference of those instructors. The karate taught by an instructor needs to be they karate that they want it to be.

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