The History of Karate

Okinawa is the birthplace of Karate. The ancient (at least 750 years old) indigenous martial art grew rapidly as a method of self-defense due to a prohibition of private ownership and use of arms in 1477. In 1922, Okinawa Karate was transported to Japan, and later to Korea where native aspects were added and modifications occurred. As time passed, other changes were made to popularize these arts, which resulted in many styles.

According to Okinawan sources, Karate is now in more than 150 countries and includes 50 million participants. Although sports Karate is popular, there is a difference between traditional and competitive Karate. Okinawa traditional Karate focuses on self-defense, physical conditioning, and the development of character and spirituality through the use of traditional form practice methods, weapon skills, and hand combat skills training.

For the person seeking to find a martial art that will meet their desires and needs, it is helpful to understand that of all of the styles in existence; there are only five types of Karate:

  1. For self defense
  2. For health and physical fitness
  3. For character and spiritual development
  4. For sport
  5. For show

At Hershey Karate, emphasis is placed on the first three types, referred to as traditional karate.

The main doctrine of traditional karate is the blocking of an attack and then countering with devastating strikes from various body parts – hands, feet, elbows, knees, etc; for the purpose of self defense, and life survival. We always rigidly adhere to this core doctrine. Additionally, less injurious techniques are featured to address situations that might be encountered in which strikes are inappropriate. Control techniques, joint locks, pressure points, throws, grappling, ground fighting and other strategies are featured in the training curriculum in order to provide a well rounded and comprehensive program. But this is only the physical component, the techniques of fighting known as Jutsu.

The mental and emotional components (mind) taught at our academy are known as Karate-Do. Do is the term used to describe the “Way” of Karate. Ancient martial arts masters perfected methods (a Way) to unify the mind and body, which can empower a person with extraordinary capabilities. The “Way” concept also implies there are multiple ways of being and of behaving, both morally and socially, to reach the ultimate goal of mankind: harmonious integration with the laws of the universe. It includes discipline and a constant search for self-perfection, implying the practice of numerous virtues, which lead the individual to perfect union with himself, his environment, and other human beings. An important aspect of Karate-Do is the quest to achieve maximum human potential as an individual.