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What is Karate?



In its most simplistic definition, karate is a Japanese martial art that was developed to facilitate unarmed self-defense and combat where the arms and legs are used to perform strikes, punches and blocks. At its heart though karate is much more than a simple form of self-defense or fighting, and many of its practitioners come to view it as a way of life. The founder of modern karate, Master Funakoshi, said that karate “should be simple enough to be practiced without undue difficulty by everybody, young and old, boys and girls, men and women.”

We practice the "Shotokan" style of karate developed by Master Gichin Funakoshi and Master Masatoshi Nakayama, the founders of modern day karate.

Shoto means pine waves, and literally refers to the gentle breezes rippling through the pine forests at Mount Torao (Tiger's Tail), where the master traveled to meditate. So even the Shotokan tiger, our traditional emblem, has a double meaning, symbolizing a skilled karateka's decisive attacks, but also highlighting karate's spiritual nature.

The designation karate is equally subtle. In writing kara, Funakoshi chose Japanese characters that, in Zen Buddhist philosophy, mean "to render oneself empty." As a practical expression of a martial art, students who are calm and relaxed will be in the best position to defend themselves in dangerous situations. But Funakoshi also believed that when students are empty - free from fear and anger - they are most open to knowledge.

SMU Instructors Team Kata

News & Events

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Class Schedule & Location

Beginner Class

Adult Beginner Class starts January 14, 2020
Tuesday & Thursday
6:00pm - 7:00pm

Advanced Class

January 9, 2020
Tuesday & Thursday
7:00pm - 8:00pm

Homburg Centre for Health & Wellness
Saint Marys University

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Karate Kick