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Karate Martial Arts

Karate is a Japanese designation meaning "empty hand", derived from the Ryukyu (Okinawan) art of Tohde, meaning "Tang Hand," a generic term referring to numerous systems of Chinese derived boxing and trapping skills, grappling and tumbling skills, and weapons skills. Karate may have been imported to the Kingdom of Ryukyu during the Chinese Tang Dynasty and later further developed for purposes of insurgency against the occupying Japanese forces of the Shimazu Clan who invaded Okinawa in the early seventeenth century.

Thus karatedo, so called "way of the empty hand," was originally a warfighting method which naturally employed a range of armaments. These were found chiefly among the farming, boating, fishing and other gear of the peasantry, as the aristocracy of the Ryukyu had been disarmed following their initial defeat.

Today, the fighting skills of the staff, the oar, the flail, the pestle, and others are still taught in Okinawa, though less so in Japan, where "empty hand" skills are often emphasized almost exclusively. These include:

  • Posture, stance, footwork, and maneuver.

  • Blocking, parrying, trapping, tracking, and redirecting.

  • Striking with the head, elbows, forearms, hands, knees, shins and feet.


Basic skills are initially taught individually, then integrated into formal solo drills, partnered engagement drills, and eventually so-called "free fighting" drills, which are something like boxing matches wherein targets and contact are limited for safety purposes.

For more information on private instruction and group classes, or to schedule a private interview, please call 212-749-1220 or Click Here to Request Information.

For a thorough treatment of our method, read Igensho: The Book of Dignity: General Principles of Martial Art.