Hard types in martial arts terms means, meeting force with an opposing force. Karate and Tae Kwon Do are prime examples of “hard” arts. Hard types typically use a penetrating, linear "external force" where the energy of the technique is mostly absorbed by the opponent.
Soft types in martial arts, signifies a yielding, accepting, or non-resistive approach. Aikido and Tai Chi are great examples of "soft" arts. Soft types usually use a circular, flowing "internal force" where the energy of the technique goes completely through the opponent.
Developed by Master Gichin Funakoshi and originating in Okinawa, Japan; Shotokan Karate is known as a “hard” style of martial arts because it emphasizes strong blocks and strikes, long stances, and sparring techniques.
Kihon is a Japanese term meaning "basics" or "fundamentals." The term refers to the basic techniques that are taught and practiced as the foundation in most Japanese martial arts.
Kata or "form" are prearranged set of moves where you are fighting imaginary attackers. Karate aims for the mastery of kata as they are essential for physical training. They help fine-tune body mechanics, including muscle memory, needed to execute techniques properly. The full mastery of kata lies within the understanding and application of its "bunkai".
Kumite or "sparring" is the nearest thing to a real fight, without actually fighting. Sparring will help you enhance your techniques, increase your speed and reaction time, and teach you control and distance. Remember, sparring is not fighting.
Karate comes from two words: “kara” meaning empty, and “te” meaning hand. This is because karate is a martial art that focuses on hand-to-hand combat rather than the use of weapons.
Prior to Karate making its way to Japan, Karate traces back to Daruma or Bodhidharma, who established Zen Buddhism in Western India. Bodhidharma was an Indian Buddhist monk who traveled to China in around 527 CE. History shares, that he stayed at the Shaolin temple of northern China and shared the philosophies and training methods of the Zen Buddhists. The monks of the Shaolin temple then adopted the new shared knowledge and combined them with their Kung fu. Eventually, the combination of the Zen Buddist, Shaolin Kung fu, the Shokei style of southern China, and the Ryukyuan martial arts left us with the early stages of Karate.
Shotokan is also composed of two different kanji: Shoto, meaning “pine breeze” and kan, meaning “the place”, thus Shotokan means the place of shoto.
Founded in 1928, Shotokan karate is rooted in ancient Okinawan teachings, combined with influences from Chinese martial arts.
The various belt colors in Karate symbolize the stages of a growing plant:
White – Stands for purity or birth
Yellow – Represents the Sun and the plants’ exposure to the sun
Blue – Like the beautiful blue skies that plants reach towards
Green – Surrounded by grass and finally sprouting leaves
Purple – Pedals of a flower and the color of dusk
1st Degree Brown – The return to darkness and the bowing of the flower
2nd Degree Brown – Same as the previous brown
Black – Death, the plant dies; but it is ready for a new beginning
The more you train in Karate, the more you’ll grow. 😉
You can achieve your black belt in as little as 3 to 7 years; it all depends on how often and the intensity of your training.
Founded by Morihei Ueshiba and originating in Japan; Aikido emphasizes redirecting the opponent’s energy, along with joint and wrist locks. Aikido is known as a “soft” style as it does not promote overtly offensive moves but rather how to take control of an attacker with minimal effort.
Aikido is often translated as “the way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the way of harmonious spirit”.
It has three kanji that can be broken down:
Created in the early 1920s, Aikido incorporates several styles of jujitsu for joint locks and throws as well as body movements from sword and spear fighting.
Created by Kano Jigoro Shihan originating in Eishoji, Tokyo, Japan; Judo is a known as a “soft” style because it is not about pushing back against an attacker. Instead, Judo advocates for turning the body and keeping balance so that the attacker loses theirs, leaving the practitioner with the advantage.