Today there are many different Karate sports, originally there was only one. The first or Traditional Karate (Karate-Do) was the original Karate from which these later sports borrowed the
name “Karate”, as it is commonly and widely used today.
Karate has its roots in “Tode” a weaponless self-defense system developed in Okinawa, influenced by Chinese martial arts with more than two thousand years of history. In mainland Japan, it was established as a part of “Budo” (Japanese martial arts) system; “Traditional Karate” therefore is a general term for Karate that follows Budo principles.
The purpose of Traditional Karate is to develop well-balanced mind and body, through training in fighting techniques. Traditional Karate also shares the ultimate aim with Budo, which is to cultivate great human character of a higher class that prevents any violent attack before an actual fight occurs.
Budo originates in the practice of physical fighting; however, it has a significant effect on the spiritual and physical development of a human since Budo philosophy and ethics are absolute requirements for the study of techniques and improvement of skills. Elements such as manners and etiquette were not adapted from outside elements nor are they independent from the physical training, but existed within the system since the origin of Budo and were integrated to the technical improvement:
Budo training must be done in a serious manner, because its techniques are derived from severe life-or-death situations, where one must win the fight in order to survive. This is why Budo practitioners are required to have a serious mind set. Only in such a condition can one possibly achieve extreme levels of mind and body far beyond ordinary levels. This is apparent in competitions. For example, a Kumite (sparring) match is carried out in Ippon-shobu (one perfect “finishing blow” determines the winner) format. Because only one definitive technique can conclude a match, competitors are driven to learn the impor-tance of serious attitude.
To achieve a higher level, Budo requires a practitioner to keep a humble mind and behavior. This allows one to always learn something from anyone. Once one thinks that he or she is better than others, the possibility of improvement ceases. This is the basis of the high importance of respecting instructors as well as training partners in Budo.
Calmness & Discipline:
As already mentioned, the original Budo techniques were designed for the critical situation where one may or may not survive. Under such a condition, it is difficult for anybody to keep a calm mind; the ability of clear judgment or physical reflex slows down, and often one may find himself immobilized due to nervousness. Therefore keeping a calm mind is a crucial concern in Budo practice, and this is why a training session begins and ends with a period of meditation.