Karate is a martial art and combat sport that originated primarily in Okinawa, a small island off the coast of Japan. It is defensive in nature and incorporates strikes with the hands and feet as its primary tools.
Training in Karate traditionally consists of three elements – Kihon, Kata and Kumite. Kihon is the training of basic techniques, and is the foundation upon which the art rests; Kata is a set pattern of Karate movements performed continuously, rather like a combative dance routine; and Kumite is the translation of the basic training into various forms of live sparring.
Although training always rests upon these elements, the way this training is carried out differs greatly depending upon the age and experience of the student. Junior Cadets (students aged between six and ten) concentrate on solo training, to try and absorb new and potentially difficult techniques; there is no heavy impact work on pads that could negatively affect the young child’s development.
As children grow older and more mature, the competitive aspect of Karate is introduced, and light impact work and sparring can now be engaged in. Senior Cadets (students aged between eleven and fifteen) and Adults (sixteen and over) learn the competition fighting style of the World Karate Federation, which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and is semi-contact only, with a strong emphasis on control.