The word karate literally means "the art of empty hands." It is the most widely practiced of all the martial arts. Karate is a sport and a means of self-defense that uses the body as a weapon in striking, kicking, and blocking. In Japan, where it is called karate-do, it involves discipline of the mind as well as of the body. Unlike judo and aikido, it is not a grappling or throwing sport. There are hundreds of varieties of karate, stemming from the intense rivalry among teachers of the art. Some of which will be touched upon in this report.
In the early 6th century AD, Bodhidharma, an Indian priest and knight, brought Zen Buddhism to China along with a system of 18 self-defense exercises. The exercises evolved into a form of boxing, which spread, with Zen, throughout China and in the 12th century reached Japan. Karate originated in Okinawa many centuries ago, where it was based on combat techniques imported from China. It was not called karate until it was introduced into Japan early in the 20th century by Gichin Funakoshi. It was he who gave the art its present name in 1935 to differentiate it from Okinawan types that used weapons.
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