Various Forms Of Karate

Differences Between The Most Popular Karate Styles

Karate instructor showing student how to throw jab

Karate is the Asian form of martial art. It was developed in Okinawa (Japan) in the early twentieth century. Karate basically involves hand strikes, including knee and elbow strikes, kicking, punching, and open hand strikes like knife hands (karate chop). With time, several Karate styles came into existence, including traditional as well as modern styles.

Karate is mainly divided into two forms – Okinawan Karate and Japanese Karate. As the name suggests, Okinawan Karate developed in Okinawa and Japanese Karate developed in Japan. Although, Okinawa is in Japan, both the karate forms have some differences in their techniques and moves. Okinawa Karate comprises of high stances as opposed to Japanese Karate, which involves low and short stances. Okinawa Karate is ideal for lazy people, who don’t want to take much effort. It is a perfect self defense tool, as it involves practical, quick and effortless moves, just like everyday stances. Furthermore, Okinawa Karate focuses on the meaning of techniques rather than their execution. On the other hand, Japanese Karate is more inclined towards the performance of moves, and not their meaning.

Earliest Karate styles

Apart from the major division, Karate has several different forms, with each one having its own kata (training styles). The techniques and lineage of each Karate style are different from the other. The earliest Karate styles include Shorin Ryu, Goju Ryu, Shito Ryu, and Wado Ryu. Shorin Ryu, Shito Ryu, and the Wado Ryu developed in the Shuri area of Okinawa, whereas Goju Ryu developed in the Naha province. The Shuri Karate forms are different from the Naha karate forms, since both of them were influenced by different predecessors.

Focusing on the individual styles of Karate, Shorin Ryu involves a lot of katas or training forms, with numerous stylistic elements. It is a combination of Shuri-te, Okinawan and Chibana (Chinese martial art). Goju Ryu employs the Sanchin kata and stance, a meditation, body conditioning, and technique drill exercise. It emphasizes on several close-range and grappling techniques such as circular joint locks and punches. Shito Ryu is a blend of the Naha and Shuri traditions, with both Naha and Shuri movements (kata). It encompasses upright stances, stressing on speed over power in its techniques. And, Wado Ryu is a blend of striking and grappling techniques of Shotokan Ryu and Jujitsu, respectively. It incorporates short and natural postures, with body shifts to prevent attacks.


Some other Karate styles

Kyokushinkai is a hard and arduous form of Karate. It is characterized by hard blows, breaking, knock down, sparring and full contact techniques. The Shotokan Ryu form of Karate involves long and deep stances with powerful and hard techniques. Shuri Ryu is the earliest form of Karate that originated in the United States. It is a mixture of the Okinawan, Naha-te, Shuri-te, and the Chinese Hsing-I and Kung fu styles. Uechi Ryu is a southern form of Chinese Kung fu. The Budokan Karate style developed in Malaysia. It involves Jujitsu, Judo, wrestling, and Shotokan styles. Furthermore, the Chito Ryu Karate form is a combination of Shorin Ryu and Shorei Ryu styles. It involves upper body and lower body rotating techniques, to relieve tension and relax the body.

Thus, all the Karate styles are different from each other in their techniques as well as moves.