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What Is Karate?


The Origin of Karate

Karate is probably one of the most popular forms of martial arts today. Everyone has heard the word Karate and knows it is a martial art. But what many people may not know is how Karate is different from other martial arts and that we can trace the origins of Karate for centuries.


What Is Karate?

Karate is a “hard” style of Japanese martial arts. This means the movements are sharp and crisp as opposed to the circular “soft” movements of martial arts like Kung Fu. Students of Karate learn strong, physical techniques of self-defense. They spend hours practicing, striking padded surfaces and eventually wood. They also practice balance and coordination. 


History of Karate

The history of Karate is fascinating because it did not originate in any one place, nor was it invented by just one person. The history of Karate is more complex; it was slowly developed and influenced by various sources over centuries. Eventually, it formed into the martial art we all know today.


A Timeline of Karate

  • 1372 Okinawa, Japan

The roots of Karate can be traced to the indigenous fighting system used in the Ryukyu Kingdom. In 1372, the Ming Dynasty in China established trade relations with the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Chinese brought with them their own fighting style, Kung Fu. The two styles were blended, however one uniform style did not happen. At this time it was a bunch of individuals who were each developing their own style of fighting.


  • 1477 King Shō Shin 

In 1477, King Shō Shin banned the use of weapons in Okinawa. As the story goes, this fed the interest in martial arts as people were looking for a weaponless way to defend themselves.


  • 1609 Satsuma Clan Invades

The Satsuma clan of Japanese Samurai invaded Okinawa and were in power for 270 years. They prohibited the Okinawans from practicing martial arts during this period.


  • Late 1700s-Early 1800s

In the late 1700s early 1800s, martial arts in Okinawa finally became more formalized. The name Tudi emerged, or Okinawan martial arts.


  • 1936 Karate Gets Its Modern Name

Gichin Funakoshi is known as the Father of Modern Karate. He was invited to the Ministry of Education in Japan to give demonstrations. This led to a surge in popularity, and Gichin’s style became known as Shotokan Karate


  • 1939 Japan Opens First School

The first official Karate training school is opened and called Shoto-Kan.


  • 1960s Karate Moves to the West

In the 1960’s and 1970’s Japanese instructors moved overseas, bringing Karate with them. The sport continued to evolve into the martial art we know today.


Want to Read More About Martial Arts?

Take a look at some of our other articles about martial arts and IMAA’s course offerings. Check out the following related blog articles:


Try A Class!

At Innovative Martial Arts Academy, we’re all about FAMILY and FUN. Our Martial Arts training offers men, women, and children the opportunity to challenge their bodies and minds without the threat of injury and intimidation. Take on the best training in disciplines like Kenpo Karate, Kali, and Aikido, and build your skills one day at a time with the help of our dedicated instructors. 


We are proud to serve families across Wake Forest, Wakefield, and the surrounding area with a rewarding experience that can set you or your child up for success in all aspects of life. If you’re interested in learning about our martial arts program, contact us at 919.562.4663, or visit our website.  


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Our Reviews

William D.
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This place is great! Charles and his team have fantastic programs for kids. When we started our 3.5 year old son, I didn’t know what to expect. He quickly adapted to the classes and now loves going. Our 2 year old son loves watching and will start as well as soon as he turns 3. Innovative Martial arts also hosted their birthday parties. The kids had a blast doing different activities throughout the birthday party. Can’t say enough good things about this place, and what they teach!
Tara H.
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Innovative Martial Arts Academy (IMAA) is the best place to take martial arts. Charles Falk, the owner, and his staff do a great job teaching martial arts to the students and teaching each student to be confident and disciplined. My son has been with IMAA for eight years - he has earned one black belt and is working on his second.
Niko F.
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Not only are the staff amazing, but there is a mix of fun and learning in the curriculum. My 5 year old daughter absolutely loves this school. She has learned respect and many other aspects making her more focused and well behaved. I definitely recommend this school for you or your child.
Janice P.
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Great school with wonderful teachers. My daughter has a great time learning and everyone is friendly. There is even an adult class that allowed me to try to see if I liked it and everyone was very patient with me. I am thankful to have my daughter be a part of the Innovative Martial Arts Academy in Wake Forest and know she is benefiting from it in more than one way. It amazes me how fast she is learning and how hard she is trying. They have her trying to develop at her fullest with her mind, body, and spirit. I would recommend this school to anyone interested in martial arts.
Kristi F.
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Wonderful place for not only skill development but also personal development. Owner and instructors genuinely get to know students and families and care about them. The lessons learned will provide character growth as well as martial art skills. The owner is also a long time student of many different martial arts, he didn't just buy a franchise, and tries very hard to live what he teaches the students. Proud to have been in this dojo family for 6+ years and proud of the friendships we have made there!

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