I didn’t know that there are different types of karate that can be learned and that each style uses different but related philosophy as a way of providing protection against an assailant. Self-defense is one of the best lifetime assets that any person can ever have because it not only provides great discipline but it also encourages physical activities and good health. There are many forms of self-defense that can be learn today but it should be noted that a lot of these techniques were developed many decades if not centuries ago. Some of the well known self-defense styles that are practiced throughout the world today includes kung fu, judo, escrimador, Brazilian ju jitsu, kali silat, and many types of karate just to name a few. In this article I will describe the reputable Japanese self-defense style known as karate. Karate was developed in Okinawa more than 500 years ago and ever since its inception it had evolved into eight different unique styles and techniques. The eight types of karate styles include Shotokan, Kyokushin, Wado-Ryu, Goju-Ryu, Isshin-Ryu, Shito-Ryu, Uecchi-Ryu, and Shorin-Ryu.
Shotokan is the most popular form of karate because it was widely demonstrated to the public by Gichin Funakoshi throughout the island of Okinawa during the time when this types of karate was still being developed in the late 1800s.
The word “Shotokan” came from the name of the first official dojo that Funakoshi had founded back in 1939. It was originally derived from Funakoshi’s pen name “Shoto” which means “pine with a wave-like movements,” and was combined with the word “Kan,” which is the Japanese word for “house.”
Kyokushin was founded in 1964 by Masutatsu Oyama, a well-known Korean and Japanese karate master who developed this self -defense strategy into a stand up and full contact style of karate.
Oyama portrayed his self-developed martial arts with a philosophy of self-discipline and self-improvement. However, it is the ability to engage in full contact against an opponent that made this types of karate very appealing to the tens of millions of people throughout the world who practice it.
Wado Ryu was developed by Hironori Otsuka and emerged sometime in 1938 in Japan. This style of karate is a hybrid between Okinawan karate style and Shindo Yoshin-ryu, and was originally known as “Shinshu Wado-ryu Karate-Jujutsu when it was first introduced to the public.
The word “Wado-Ryu” was initially derived from three different words that includes “wa” which means harmony, “do” meaning “the way,” and “ryu” which stand for “style.”
Wado-Ryu is a well known types of karate fighting system that is generally noted for their free sparing. Sensei Otsuka emphasized on the use of hitting and kicking techniques and using less throwing and grappling that is generally applied on jujutsu.
The word “Goju” was originally derived from two separate words “Go” and “ju” in which the former means “hard” and the latter means “soft.” The practitioners of Goju ryu utilizes the philosophy of alternating the hard and soft techniques that came from Bubishi, a very famous martial arts book that were used as reference by many of Okinawa’s karate grandmasters back in the 19th and 20th century.
Like other types of karate, Goju-ryu masters also emphasize the use of body strengthening and conditioning to all their students. Some of the techniques that are taught include maintaining a certain distance from the opponent, the ability to generate power when performing a specific punching or kicking moves, and using certain Goju-ryu maneuvers when in close contact.
This particular karate style literally means “one heart or one mind method” and was introduced in 1954 by Tatsuo Shimabuku of Okinawa. Isshin ryu is a hybrid of several styles of karate that includes kobudo, Shorin ryu, and Goju ryu.
Some of the techniques that are emphasized in this form of karate is the “close-in” maneuvers that are very effective for close contact. And unlike Goju-ryu, Isshin-ryu generally have quicker moves because it utilizes natural stance which enables the person to maintain better stability and limiting any types of wasted movement.
Shito Ryu was founded in 1931 by an Okinawan karate grandmaster named Kenwa Mabuni. Mabuni created Shito Ryu hoping to blend all types of karate into one unique style allowing the person to adjust their fighting skills against any styles of karate. The incorporation of different karate styles in Shito Ryu means that it has adapted the long power stance and physical strength of Shuri-te as well as the alternating hard and soft techniques, breathing power, and the circular movements of Goju-ryu. The founder also emphasized to his students to use the upright stance position as they engage their opponent and utilize their speed and strength to overpower them.
Another traditional types of karate is called Uechi-ryu or style of Uechi which was created by Kanbun Uechi of Okinawa during the mid 1920’s. This karate style was originally called Pangainun-ryu Todi-jutsu but later was rename by his students to Uechi-ryu in his honor.
Some of the major techniques that were emphasized in Uechi-ryu karate is to hardened one’s body and use quick blows and kicks to neutralize an opponent immediately. But the technique also encourages practitioners to simplify their movements, enhance their stability, and to use of alternating linear and circular movements when performing Uechi-ryu techniques. In addition, Uechi-ryu also have distinguishable moves that separate its from other types of karate. These moves include the toe kick also known as “shomen geri,” the one knuckle punch or “shoken,” and spear hand which is also known as “nukite.”
The roots of Shorin-ryu was derived from the combined Okinawan fighting style called Shuri-te and was created in 1933 by Choshin Chibana. Shorin-ryu adapted the use of natural stance, direct movements, and natural breathing techniques. This types of karate emphasizes in utilizing flexible position and fluid movement, and solid body structure to generate powerful striking moves.
In conclusion, the martial arts known as karate was developed more than five hundred years ago in the islands of Okinawa which is located between China and Japan. The cultural and philosophical influence of these two nations on Okinawa and its people had greatly contributed to the development of eight unique types of karate that are practiced throughout the world today.