The McBryde Guide to Karate

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The McBryde Guide to Karate

The McBryde Guide to Karate

Hold on to your butts, everyone. If you want a refresher on what we went over last week, visit the McBryde Guide to Jiu-jitsu. Today we’re talking about karate, an ancient martial art that was inspired by Chinese martial arts. To better understand karate, let’s delve into its history, first.

The History of Karate

karate 002Okinawa, Japan, has had its share of hardships and war. The lead-up to the development of karate started off gently enough: the people of the Ryukyu islands established trade with the Ming dynasty in China in the year 1372, and many Chinese families moved to the islands for cultural exchange. They brought their martial arts with them, which they passed into the community.

In 1477, King Shō Shin decided to ban traditional weapons in Okinawa, which most likely contributed to unarmed combat becoming A Major Thing there. It grew worse when Okinawa was invaded by Japan in 1609. Aside from unarmed combat, the locals also started turning farm implements into weapons, but we’ve  been over that already.

Fast-forward several hundred years to the lifetime of Itosu Ankō, who would become the grandfather of modern karate. He developed kata that were simplified for brand-new students, and helped get karate into public schools in Okinawa in 1901. His forms show up across all common karate styles today, and several of his students went on to become karate masters themselves.

Why Learn Karate?

There are many different reasons for someone to learn karate. It’s a very popular martial art, and for good reason: the benefits are many and the downsides are few.

Karate fuel.

Karate fuel.

For those that are looking to improve their fitness, karate is a great way to get started. You can learn at your own pace and approach the as intensely – or not – as you like. When you’re going through your kata or sparring, you’re using every muscle in your body, including those that you’ve probably never used before. You’ll become more in-tune with your body, learn how to better control it, strengthen your muscles, and build your stamina. Your reflexes will improve.

People also tend to get into karate in order to learn self defense, and wind up walking away with so much more. When you learn karate, you’ll go over a little of everything: where the weak points in the body are, how to block or deflect a strike, how the body works, and other things that are important for keeping yourself safe. What you don’t learn is to attack.

If people make karate sound a bit like a spiritual pursuit, it’s because it can be. You’re learning a bit of philosophy along the way – developing a mindset about conflict that could be considered unusual to most people. In karate, the idea is not to start a conflict, but to finish one – and only if you have to. Lack of fighting is preferred. People that go into it thinking they’re going to learn how to kick ass are immediately shut down and taught that that isn’t the point at all.

I’m going off-topic a bit, here.

Karate also teaches us to believe in ourselves. It instills self-confidence as we practice its techniques and improve ourselves. At some point in your karate career, you will teach another student, and because they look up to you as someone with more experience, that will help instill confidence in you, too. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you help this person on their own karate journey? By dipping your toes into unfamiliar waters and trying something new, you’re taking the first step toward bettering you.

karate 003Karate requires us to be very focused and aware of ourselves. When you’re going through the phases of a kata and memorizing how it goes, what every muscle has to do and every position that you have to be in, you gradually learn more about your body than you’d ever learn in biology class. The more familiar you become with your body, the better your coordination gets.

As for focus itself, you really do have to file away distractions as unimportant and be present in the moment, whether you’re sparring or practicing. You learn how to filter out the unimportant stuff so that you can focus on the things you need to be doing. This sort of focus can be carried over into other parts of your life.

Karate is also a social exercise. You’re working in a group, teaming up to spar with other people, and you have to be able to be respectful toward your fellow students. You have to learn to work in a team. If you’re a shy person, you’ll gradually learn how to cope in such an environment with the support of your classmates and Sensei.

Finally, as a karate student, you learn the importance of discipline and how to practice it. Discipline comes in the form of following Sensei’s instructions, attending classes, practicing, and showing respect to others even if you don’t get along with them.

Should Children Learn Karate?

Short version? Yes.

As mentioned above, karate teaches focus and discipline, two important things for kids to learn. In fact, if your child has focusing issues, a martial art is the perfect outlet – just make sure that it’s something they actually want to do, or it won’t work.

Kids also learn respect. At the beginning and end of every class, students bow to their Sensei, their teacher, and they often have to remain still and await instructions and commands. They have the opportunity to progress through different belt colors, which provides them with goals to meet.

Children as young as seven years can usually enter classes. At that point, they’ve usually developed enough muscle control to be able to enjoy what they’re doing.

What Equipment Does Karate Use?

karate 001The Dojo will be equipped with martial arts mats, and if there are posts, then pole padding will prevent students from a painful collision (you can browse our shop if you’re in need of some such padding yourself).

Initially, you’ll only need a uniform, called a gi. They generally cost $30.00 – $50.00, though some schools and clubs may provide you with your first one free of charge.

You may eventually need sparring gear, which is made up of shin pads, headgear, instep pads, and possibly a gum shield. Your instructor ought to be able to help you source things for a fair price.

Training gear, though not necessary, can be really helpful – especially a kick bag. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on this, it is useful to have for when you’re practicing your moves.

Overall, though, karate is a fairly affordable sport, with the biggest expense being the cost of classes. You don’t have to spend much money to get the most out of it, and you don’t have to invest in too many accessories to succeed.

How to Get Started With Karate

You can learn the basics of karate with online lessons and videos, but we highly recommend going to a proper dojo, a gym, or some other form of class. There are many karate clubs across the country that you can learn from at relatively low cost, and sometimes local recreation complexes and community centers run karate classes.

If you’re not sure what’s available in your area, Google “[your city] karate”. Even if there isn’t anything in your town or city, you’ll find out where you can learn and what’s closest to you.

Next time, we’ll be bringing you The McBryde Guide to Martial Arts. See you next time!

By |2016-02-10T06:13:15+00:00February 10th, 2016|Blog, Fitness Guide, Karate|35 Comments

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  1. Maddie June 7, 2016 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Well I guess this would answer my question on your jiu-jitsu post; there IS a difference between it and karate! Both are very cool, though I think karate is more up my alley. Thanks for the information!

    • McBryde Mats June 8, 2016 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Ha ha! We just replied to your other post Maddie – We’re glad you’re finding the guides useful and hopefully it inspires you to take up Karate!

    • Tracy January 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      So much info in so few words. Tolosty could learn a lot.

  2. craigbic June 8, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    True to form, here’s another comprehensive and informative article! My 14 year old daughter took some Karate lessons before the local school closed. It’s an awesome sport and a great way to stay fit in both body and mind! Karate is great for kids if for nothing more than the focus and discipline it teaches them. What kid couldn’t use more of those? lol

    • McBryde Mats June 9, 2016 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Thanks Craig, appreciate the good review!, yes, Karate is one of the original martial arts and a fantastic discipline for kids to learn. We are happy that you enjoyed the McBryde guide to Karate!

  3. Kevin June 18, 2016 at 2:49 am - Reply

    So many of us get karate wrong and don’t understand that this is a self defense martial art. Actually, I think every form of fighting is more or less a self defense practice. Karate is special because it helps develop the inner self as well as the outside body.

    On an unrelated note, I love planks and push-ups and try to do some daily. Right now I can stay for over 3 minutes in a plank position and do at least 35 pushups in one swoop.

    • McBryde Mats June 21, 2016 at 8:47 am - Reply

      We are glad you enjoyed the Mcbryde guide to Karate Kevin! You are right, Karate is fantastic for developing the inner and outer self.

    • Kelis January 19, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      When asked by students how many books I've had published and I reply 21 their reply is often along the lines of "oh so you teach for pin mo&ye.nquot; I wish I did. And Stroppy Author great point!

  4. sarah evanston June 23, 2016 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Karate is a really good start for anyone wanting to get into the martial arts. Children do very well in class and many adults who want to try, always seem to put it off. I put off martial arts until I was an adult and I really like class. If anyone is thinking about joining a dojo, they should come to your site first. I am learning a lot here!

    • McBryde Mats June 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm - Reply

      Karate is awesome! Thanks for reading the McBryde guide to Karate Sarah!

  5. Jenna June 24, 2016 at 7:45 am - Reply

    I never realized that karate can bring so many benefits other than self-defense. In my country, children can choose to join karate classes in the schools or clubs. I have a colleague who sends her two kids to learn karate, and surprisingly, her two active kids have become more disciplined, especially the boy, his focus in studies is improved drastically. Now, I know the reason why!

    • McBryde Mats June 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      We totally agree Jenna, the discipline that kids gain from martial arts makes all the drives to practice well worth it! Thanks for reading the McBryde guide to Karate!

  6. Amy June 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for that video, really awesome! I completely agree with you Jenna, it’s the “focusing” part that i really love. And the respect thing, lol, my daughter does that all the time, i just love that lovely bow! All in all, i think Karate helps make us strong as much as possible, both mentally and physically.

    • McBryde Mats July 1, 2016 at 11:23 am - Reply

      ‘The McBryde guide to Karate’ was developed for just that Amy!, Thanks for reading!

  7. Hades July 14, 2016 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    Quick question: Why did King Shō Shin ban weapons in Okinawa?

    My mother and I have always admired the grace and fluidity of the body in karate. Seeing it up close is something else! My uncle was a huge karate fan and used to practice all the time whenever us kids would visit! He always made sure the environment was calm and quiet before practicing, too.

    I liked the bit about karate not just being primarily about ass-kissing, but confidence and self-love. Karate helped my uncle and his children find values and happiness through the worst of times. Thanks for this!

    • McBryde Mats July 15, 2016 at 3:55 am - Reply

      So he could not be usurped and overthrown by the people.
      Karate is what Duke Roufus started with! If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for anyone!

    • Cheyanna January 19, 2017 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      haha. that is not true at all. i worked at Ameiacrn Apparel for two years, and I only saw dov once. I got hired by the district manager, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. Perhaps, it is because they scouted me out at school and asked if I wanted to work at AA, but I never had one pic taken of me!

  8. Jaci July 19, 2016 at 3:01 am - Reply

    My first introduction to Karate beyond the movies was in college back in the early 1990’s. I took a class because I needed a physical education credit and I didn’t want to take tennis. Unlike other sports, Karate is not an expensive sport which is great for parents on a budget.

    I remember my classes being somewhat physical. Is there a modified regimen for people with injuries like a bad knees?

    • McBryde Mats July 19, 2016 at 8:16 am - Reply

      Hi, martial arts in general will help stregthen your knees through application of the ‘Kata’or forms, i.e. groups of movements designed in a specified structure.

  9. Rafi Morshed July 28, 2016 at 4:54 am - Reply

    Nice informative article! Karate is a better than average combat technique. It’s a good self defense for both boys and girls.

    • McBryde Mats July 30, 2016 at 9:16 am - Reply

      Karate is one of the founding fathers of many martial arts styles, we feel it is an integral pillar of today’s MMA fighters styles as well, thanks for reading the McBryde guide and we are glad you got some value from it Rafi!

  10. Margret July 31, 2016 at 11:04 am - Reply

    This is totally cool and interesting. your site is one of the most user-friendly blogs I have
    come across. Very clean and well organised with great content such as this.
    No doubt this site will forever remain a huge success. Thank you for your effort so far.
    Karate being one of the best martial arts, it is well recommended for everyone planning to join.

    • McBryde Mats August 2, 2016 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Anytime Margret! We are so glad you like the blog and are getting value from it, thats what we are aiming for! Knowledge is power!

      • Rayann January 19, 2017 at 2:05 pm - Reply

        Cheers pal. I do aprcapiete the writing.

    • Lesa January 19, 2017 at 10:11 am - Reply

      our version of petoecrifn is a) everyone having a good time and b) guests not being aware of any hiccups occur during the day. at least as much as we can control!

  11. alamin August 3, 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Thanks for that video, really awesome!Decent instructive article! Karate is a superior than normal battle method. It’s a decent self protection for both young men and young ladies. it is very much prescribed for everybody wanting to join.

    • McBryde Mats August 6, 2016 at 6:48 am - Reply

      We feel the same way! Karate is a great sport that can do great things for your body and mind! Thanks for reading!

      • Tangie January 19, 2017 at 11:14 am - Reply

        Whoever wrote this, you know how to make a good arlecti.

  12. Sam Brooke August 4, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Great article! I appreciate how you set the record straight right away about the REAL philosophy behind karate; how it’s really about avoiding a fight and learning how to react when it happens, rather than knowing how to start and win at one.

    I can only imagine how many people get into it for all the wrong reasons, only to be sadly disappointed!

    • McBryde Mats August 6, 2016 at 6:31 am - Reply

      Thanks! Yes, Karate is a complex martial art with deep cultural roots. We are glad you enjoyed the McBryde guide to Karate!

  13. Noel August 13, 2016 at 4:50 am - Reply

    You are a bad ass in depth writer. This is a must for every children, I went through a karate class, and when you said it i stills focus and discipline, you are 100% correct. Even though a physical sport with peculiarity to injuries, I still love the feeling of bowing to my sensei.

    • McBryde Mats August 23, 2016 at 6:16 am - Reply

      We agree! Karate is one of the oldest and most traditional of the martial arts. Its popularity is stronger than ever and there are many talented practitioners and teachers out there. Good luck in your training!

  14. Tina Neuer August 14, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Karate is such a popular sport, however I had no idea about the interesting history behind it! I like how you mention learning philosophy and its importance in karate, as well as how to become aware of ourselves. It’s actually why I initially became interested in the sport; karate class is definitely a must for my children!

    • McBryde Mats August 22, 2016 at 1:53 am - Reply

      Hi Tina! Yes! we agree, Karate is one of the oldest and most traditional of the martial arts, thanks for reading!

    • Christiana January 19, 2017 at 11:03 am - Reply

      At last some ranoltaiity in our little debate.

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