Are you looking for karate classes in Brampton to learn the different styles of this martial art?
There are four main ones: Shōtōkan, Wadō-ryū, Shitō-ryū, and Gōjū-ryū. Many minor styles have developed from these four primary ones; they are not separate arts but variations on their basic rules. They tend to focus on a single aspect; adding something new and specific along the way.
In this post, we explore the four main karate styles.
Let’s get started.
Different Styles of Karate and Their Features
The roots of karate extend back to Asia; possibly as early as the 13th century. It took hold as a practice in Okinawa, Japan, at a time when weapons were banned and people had to learn how to defend themselves with their bodies. The meaning of the word ‘karate’ is ‘empty hands’, indicating that the karate practitioner does not hold a weapon.
With the advent of new karate masters opening new schools, it continues to evolve and generate followings. In fact, there are over 75 styles of karate.
Here, you will learn about four of the most popular. Each has had a strong influence on the development of modern karate.
|Note: While reading through these different styles, you will see that all of them have the Japanese word ‘ryu’ as part of their names. In Japanese, this means style, school, system, type, form, etc. The word is mostly used as a suffix after the style names.
Shotokan karate is one of the most well-known karate styles. It originated on the main Japanese islands. Although it draws influence from Okinawan martial arts, the primary influences on Shōtōkan were Shōrin-ryū and Shōrei-ryū.
Shotokan-ryu was introduced in 1928 by Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern karate. His poetry pen name was Shoto. Hence, his style of karate was named Shotokan. He opened up a karate dojo (a room or hall in which martial arts are practised) in Okinawa. Then, he moved to the United States to start teaching his style of karate. Its features include:
- It utilizes both the upper and lower body to produce linear and forceful punches and kicks.
- Unlike the circular, fluid movements of kung fu, Shotokan techniques are very strong and linear.
- It consists of about 70% hard techniques and 30% soft movements.
- It is focused on speed, form, balance, breathing, and straight-line strikes to quickly stop an attacker or opponent.
- It has 26 kata (an individual training exercise in karate) that students must learn.
- Its beginner stances tend to be deep and become longer as the student advances.
The meaning of this Japanese term is ‘the way of harmony’. Here, ‘wa’ stands for wholeness, unity, and peace; ‘do’ stands for way or path.
This karate style was founded by Hironori Otsuka in 1939. It is an offshoot of Shotokan-ryu and is all about the harmony of movements. Whereas most karate styles focus on powerful attacks, Wado practitioners seek to evade blows. Instead of a winning motif, it aims to help you strive to become a better person. Some of its features are:
- It has a strong emphasis on harmony and peacefulness of mind.
- It focuses on evading strikes.
- It includes some elements of jiu-jitsu, such as joint locks and throws.
- It avoids hard contact during sparring by shifting the body and reducing the full force of an opponent’s blows.
- It uses punches and kicks as counterattacks.
- The students learn 15 kata.
- Its ultimate aim is to sharpen the mind of the practitioner to better intuit their opponent’s moves.
Shito-ryu karate was founded by Kenwa Mabuni in the 1920s. Although Shotokan-ryu is the most popular karate style in the world, Shito-ryu is the most popular in Japan. It is heavily influenced by martial arts like Shuri-te, Naha-te, and Okinawan karate styles. Some of its defining features are:
- It is a combination style, uniting the diverse roots of karate.
For example, on one hand, it has the physical strength and long, powerful stances of Shuri-te. On the other hand, it has circular and eight-directional movements, breathing power, and the hard and soft characteristics of Naha-te.
- It employs short, low-to-the-ground stances, similar to sumo wrestling.
- It includes techniques like closed-handed punches, kicks, and elbow strikes.
- It focuses on fluidity and speed during katas and sparring.
- It has the highest number of katas: 94.
Goju-ryu originated on the island of Okinawa. It was influenced by the Naha-te group and the Chinese martial art called Fujian White Crane. This art emphasizes balance. That’s why its name is also perfectly balanced. It was founded by Chojun Miyagi in 1930. In Goju-ryu, ‘Go’ means ‘hard or resilient’ and ‘Ju’ stands for ‘soft or yielding’. Miyagi chose the name to emphasize that his style integrated both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ styles.
Some of its features are:
- It employs both hard and soft techniques, including hard, closed-fist punches and soft, open-handed strikes.
- It combines formidable counter-strike movements in the offensive positions with soft and circular blocks in the defensive positions that resemble ju-jitsu.
- It employs angular movements to deflect its opponent’s strikes, followed by sharp and hard punches and kicks.
- Its movements are flowing, circular, and precise.
- It places a strong emphasis on breathing techniques to produce harmony between the body and brain.
- This style has 12 katas, most of which focus on using the hands in different ways to strike an opponent.
Karate is a traditional martial art form that has a large number of styles. Some are designed for aggressive combat, while others emphasize character development. But it is also an effective exercise to achieve physical fitness. So, if you want to learn a martial art that teaches character development, fitness, and self-defence skills, take karate. If you aren’t sure which style to choose, consult with Legends MMA’s karate experts. We offer a free introductory class so you can get an idea of what to expect. Contact Legends MMA right away!