The literal translation of Kara-te 空 is “empty hand” with Do meaning “way”, so that Karate-Do would mean the “empty hand way.” However, this has not always been the case and this translation has only been used since 1935. Before Karate became popular in Japan the words Kara-te were written slightly differently as 唐. These writings can be interpreted as meaning “Chinese hand” and gives us a clue as to the origins of Karate, but that is another, quite interesting story
Karate is a self-defence martial art that stems from the Ryu Kyu islands, most notable Okinawa. Developed due to a ban on weapons on the Islands Karate utilises almost every part of the human body as a potential weapon including the fingers, hands, forearms, elbows, feet, knees and much more. Although aggressive in nature, Karate trains the mind and spirit to be calm and patient, and teaches that the martial arts should be used for self-defence only.
Modern day Karate is now more of a sport than a way of life, but lessons learnt in the Dojo such as respect, hard work, dedication, self-determination and friendship are still applicable in everyday life. Some students train for fitness or for self-defence purposes, others train to improve confidence and gain self-respect, but also have fun whilst doing so. Over the years Karate has branched into many different styles but all of these fundamentals have remained constant throughout.
Our style of Karate is Wado-ryu (和流). The name Wadō-ryū has three parts: Wa, dō, and ryū. Wa means "harmony," dō means "way," and ryū means "style." Harmony should not be interpreted as pacifism; it is simply the acknowledgement that yielding can be more effective than brute strength. A key principle in Wadō-ryū is that of Tai Sabaki, meaning "body-management," and refers to body manipulation to move the defender as well as the attacker out of harm's way. The way to achieve this is to 'move along' or ‘move away’ from your opponents centre line rather than opposing his movement, moving with your opponent instead of against him, i.e. in harmony with him.