Karate involves muscular strength in both the arms and legs. The practitioner (karateka) uses the energy produced by his muscles.
Stances with hips rotation are practiced, in order to add power to the upper body and to allow fast, strong blocks, punches and kicks. The force of the impact is obtained by the concurrent use of the various parts of the body followed by their instantaneous tension. This force is maximized by placing the entire body in the punch or kick, centralizing the torso and transferring the weight from one leg to the other during the punch.
Thus, the energy of the moving body goes along with the energy of the muscles of the arms or legs.
The tensing (kime) can be defined as the rapid and vigorous contraction of all muscles that occurs at the end of the blow. The purpose of kime is an explosive attack to the target using the appropriate technique and maximum power in the shortest possible time.
The karateka keeps his center of gravity low to the ground. As he depends upon his body (legs, buttocks and upright torso) to power his strikes and he does not lean in while punching, low stances are preferentially used, because they give greater stability for the execution of techniques of attack and defense.
Karate techniques are executed within three modalities:
- Kihon (basic techniques)
Practice of attack and defense techniques isolated or grouped.
- Kata (forms)
Practice of logical sequences of techniques (against imaginary fighters).
- Kumite (sparring)
Fight between two opponents, using the techniques learned from the kihons and katas.
There are various types of Kumite:
Pre-defined (kihon kumite)
Flexible (jû kumite)
Without contact (kunde kumite)
Free (kumite juyû)
The different Karate styles present similar techniques, though some, like Sohotokan, apply linear punches and other include circular ones. Differences are more evident during Kata performances where postures differ: while some have long movements others do short forms.
The techniques may be summarized in the following categories (in Shotokan style):
A list of the techniques practiced in Shotokan style:
Some of the most used techniques:
Mawashi geri: a circular kick in the face
Kisoni tsuki: a punch in the body
Yoko-geri: a kick on side body
Mae geri: a direct kick