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  • WHAT IS WAZA-ARI

    Japanese martial arts matches are measured in points called IPPON. Ippon means that the technique which scored the point would incapacitate an opponent in a real situation. (This is true of each full point scored in a match, even if you need to score three points to win.) Recognizing that there are techniques that may not result in victory by themselves but nonetheless can contribute toward it, half points, called waza-ari , are also recognized in competition. Although rules of competition in karate vary greatly according to the style, a strike such as a controlled reverse punch to a vital spot like the back of the head may constitute an ippon . On the other hand, a quick jab that ....

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  • WHAT IS SENPAI

    Karate traditions call upon you to show a great amount of respect to students who have been studying at your school for longer than you have. These students are called your senpai . If we think if the relationship between you and your karate teacher, or SENSEI, as similar to that between a child and a parent, then you should consider your senpai to be more like your older siblings. Your sensei is your elder not just in karate but in all aspects of life. As such, you should show your sense i the utmost respect. While your senpai is also your senior, he or she precedes you only in relation to a particular discipline- in this case, karate. While you must still treat your senpai with ....

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  • WHAT IS SHOMEN

    Every DOJO, or place of practice, has a side called shomen . This side is considered most important by those who practice karate there. The first ideogram, sho , means “proper” or “correct,” while men means “side” or “face.” Shomen is a commonly used word meaning “front” or “facade,” but it has special importance in the dojo , where it refers to one of the interior walls. The shomen can be any side of the training hall or ring except for one through which people enter or exit. The shomen orients the dojo in space. It is a kind of signpost that gives the interior space of the dojo meaning. If a dojo ....

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  • WHAT IS MOKUSO

    Many people consider karate to be a meditative art, a way to focus and reflect on themselves in the present moment. They want to see themselves as they are now, not as they were yesterday or even a moment ago, nor how they will be tomorrow or in the next second. They do so by getting away from their day-to-day activities – the office, household chores, school, and homework- to spend an hour or two concentrating on getting each karate technique perfect. If you could make each moment in life work of perfection, you would be living very well indeed. You would never regret that you are not living life to its fullest potential. But this is very difficult if not impossible to accomplish. ....

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  • WHAT IS ZEN

    Zen is a form of Buddhism that originated in China in the sixth century and has gone through much development and change in Japan since it arrived there during the twelfth century. Its teachings affected many traditional Japanese art forms, among them flower arranging, painting, calligraphy, and the martial arts, including of course, karate. Zen stresses the importance of living our daily lives to the fullest. To do this, we must be able to see the world around us in its true form at each moment in time. Our perceptions, however, are influenced by our own biases. Only by understanding ourselves can we understand our biases, and thereby truly observe reality. Zen also practices ....

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  • WHAT IS GI

    Actually, gi is not an independent word in Japanese. It is a suffix or a part of a compound word that means "clothing." When the Japanese refer to the uniform worn during karate class, they call it either karate­ gi (karate clothing) or keiko-gi (practice clothing). Most peo ple who do not speak Japanese, however, refer to it simply as gi. Karate-gi are traditionally made of cotton, though it is common nowadays to see gi made of polyester. Although today gi come in a wide variety of designs and colors, the first ones were simple and white, symbolizing purity. Even if your school does not stipulate ....

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  • WHAT IS KARATE

    This question may be answered quite simply. Karate is a martial art, a form of self-defense. It teaches students to develop fast, powerful punches and kicks as well as skills in joint manipulation and throwing. You can rightly call it ancient. It was first developed centuries ago on the islands of Okinawa, which is now the southernmost part of Japan. Karate probably originated from the martial arts of China, to which Okinawans were exposed through trade with the Chinese from as early as the fourteenth century. It is widely accepted today that “karate” means “empty hand” in Japanese. In the 1920s, however, when karate was introduces to mainland Japan ....

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  • WHAT IS IPPON

    In Japanese martial arts competition, a full point scored during free sparring matches is called ippon. Though ippon simply means “one point, “ in karate this score is given to a technique that in real combat would have been a debilitating or killing blow. The same conventions are followed in other Japanese martial arts such as judo and kendo. Although modern matches can go up to three points, a great deal of weight is placed upon each point because, had the conflict been real, the person scored against could have forfeited his or her life. Each ippon is a very serious warning and lesson. For this reason, it was traditionally considered bad practice to hold back against ....

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  • WHAT IS SENSEI

    In your study of karate, no one will be more important to you than your teacher, your sensei . The word is made up of two ideograms, sen, which means "ahead" or "precede," and sei, which means "life.'' Put together they create a new word that means "one who is ahead of you in life.” Your sensei, your teacher, is your elder and is deserving of respect. In Japan, teachers are considered to be more than just instructors of a particular subject. They are regarded as role models for their students in all aspects of life. Japanese teachers of math or social studies, for example, are expected not only to know about their ....

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  • WHAT IS DOJO

    People who practice karate refer to the school or club where they train as a dojo. This word can refer to the building that contains the school, or it can refer specifically to the room, gymnasium, or hall where they actually practice. If the class is held outdoors, the field under the open sky is the dojo. Do, the first ideogram in dojo, means "the way" or "the path," while Jo means "place." Dojo means "the place where one walks the way." You might think this is contradictory: you cannot, after all, walk very far if you're stuck inside a karate studio. The truth is, however, the time you spend training in a dojo ....

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