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10 Types of Karate

by
author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
10 Types of Karate
Karate was developed in Okinawa, Japan. Photo Credit eskaylim/iStock/Getty Images

The marial art of Karate developed in Okinawa, Japan in a period when Okinawans were prohibited from owning weapons and had to learn how to defend themselves with their bodies. There is most likely some influence from Chinese martial arts, like kempo, in karate. Since its creation there have been many spin-offs of karate that stem from the interpretation of different instructors.

Kyokushin

The name Kyokushin is roughly translated to mean "society for the ultimate truth," according to Black Belt Magazine. Its founder, Masutatsu Oyama, believed in self-discipline in his practice. The emphasis is on devastating blows and powerful single strikes. This style of training is very intense, to promote self-discipline and mental toughness.

Wado

Wado is as much a self-development art as it is a fighting style. Wa stands for wholeness, peace, and unity. Ri-Do stands for reason and truth. The training in Wado is meant to help you strive to become a better person, as opposed to a sport where the object is to win. It was developed in the early 1900s on the mainland in Japan and is a mixture of karate and jujutsu.

Shotokan

Gichin Funakoshi was one of the first people in Okinawa to start teaching karate. His pen name for poetry was Shoto, which is why his style of karate was named Shotokan. He opened up a karate dojo in Okinawa and then moved to the United States to start teaching his style of karate, which is very traditional and without much outside influence.

Read More: Korean Vs. Japanese Martial Arts

Uechi

Developed in Okinawa, this style of karate was originally from China. The instructor, Kanbun Uechi, opened his first dojo in China before moving back to Okinawa. There are eight different series, or katas, in this style. The style uses a mix of circular blocks, open-handed strikes, strikes with one knuckle, and kicks with the big toe. It follows traditional karate styles by being very discipline-oriented and respectful towards the opponent.

Goju

This art is all about balance. Even the name is perfectly balanced. The first half of the name, go, means to be hard or resilient. The second half of the name, ju, means to be soft or yielding. There are 12 katas in this style of karate, and most of them focus on using the hands in different ways to strike an opponent.

Read More: The Highest Degree of Black Belt in Karate

Shorin

Shoken Matsumura originally developed this style of karate in Okinawa. It focuses on avoiding attackers by moving from side to side, and then attacking them with strikes that are meant to throw them off balance. Correct posture is a big part of this style of martial art, and the fighters trained in this method typically stand taller than other fighters. It is also effective for defending yourself against multiple attackers.

Isshin-Ryu

The concept behind this type of karate is that one or two well-timed blows is enough to stop an opponent. Kicks below the waist are common with this style, as are very close-in self-defense techniques. The art was developed in Okinawa by Tatsuo Shimabuku, who merged two different types of karate: Shorin and Goju. He taught many United States Marines in his method, which made it grow in popularity.

There are many different styles of karate that come from different instructors.
There are many different styles of karate that come from different instructors. Photo Credit AnaBGD/iStock/Getty Images

Shito Ryu

Using the big muscles of the legs and hips helps you develop power in this version of karate. Staying true to its self-defense roots, you'll practice using strikes to block an opponent and neutralize them in this art. The blocks are performed close to the body to maximize leverage, and you'll develop tension through your body to unleash on your opponent. It was created by Grand Master Teruo Hayashi in Okinawa. He studied in many different forms of karate and used them to create his own style.

Shaolin Kempo Karate

This is a hybrid martial art that combines karate, kempo and Shaolin into one art. It was founded by the Grandmaster Frederick Villari. All of the four ways of fighting are included in this martial art, which are: kicking, punching, grappling and takedowns, which is when you force an opponent to the ground. By putting together different styles, Villari developed a well-balanced martial arts system.

Kobudo

This ancient form of martial arts, developed in Okinawa, teaches the handling of six different weapons. It's the only aspect of karate that deals primarily with weapons, and stems from an art of weapon handling that is over 400 years old. The weapons were crafted by farmers, making them readily accessible for many people. Nunchucks are one of the most well-known weapon from this art, which are actually made from rice flails.

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