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How to Teach Yourself the Basics of Karate
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How to Teach Yourself the Basics of Karate

The philosophy behind karate is vast and complex. It stems from thousands of years of armed and unarmed combat. Techniques that were perfected hundreds of years ago are still being perfected over and over again by each new generation. Buddhism, Taoism, and the code of Bushido have all played parts in the development of the martial arts philosophy. Karate in its modern form is about 400 years old which was originally an offshoot of Chinese Gongfu. See Step 1 below to start teaching yourself the basics of this art form.



Meditate. (5+ minutes) Clear your mind of all thoughts; concentrate on breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth; steady deep breaths and a clear mind will prepare you to learn Karate. There is no time limit, but meditating for at least 5 minutes should clear your thoughts enough to allow you to concentrate. And yes, meditating can definitely enhance your fighting skills![1]

  • Forget school. Forget work. Forget family, problems, everything -- visualize them evaporating before your eyes. Once everything is gone, you should see an empty room, and in the center of the empty room, a ball of flame begins growing from the emptiness. This flame of firing strength and energy should represent anything you hope to achieve by training yourself in Karate. By the time you are done with your meditation, the room should be entirely engulfed by nothing but the flame.
Warm up. (10 minutes) Start off by running in place or around the block for about 5 minutes; plus about 5 minutes (or 20 reps each) of push-upssit-ups (or crunches), leg lifts, and reverse push-ups.
  • Warming up is vital to your muscles' ability to do work. If you don't get them loose and ready before you start your training and stretching, then they will go on strike against you and even basic moves will be tough to execute properly.
Stretch. (15 minutes) Stretching all major muscle groups first is essential for a loose and limber body; get a book on stretching if you do not already know what stretching exercises to do. In Karate, stretching the legs is crucial to keep yourself injury-free.
  • Stretching comes after warming up. When your muscles have heated up, that's when they'll be most receptive to stretching -- when stretching will be the safest and most effective.
  1. 4
    Understand the philosophy behind karate. To the untrained observer, karate may look like its about showy displays of violence. In fact, it's the polar opposite. Karate is about peace and, what's more, peace of mind. In life conflict is unavoidable. When this happens, it should be handled swiftly and with power. The result is a natural confidence that has an air of humility.
    • This is an art form that involves the mind and spirit as much as the body. All three must develop simultaneously for the practitioner to truly master this sport. While the body must remember how to move, the mind, in turn, must remember how to be still.[2]
    • All of the martial arts begin and end with courtesy. There is very little that is selfish about karate. It is believed that in your devotion there is reward.[3]
  1. 1
    Get the basic stances down. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you wanna get to the fun stuff. Unfortunately, your kicks, strikes, and blocks will not be effective if you don't have your stance right. You wouldn't expect to be a great baseball if you held your bat the wrong way, would you? Nope. The basics are what truly make a great karateka (karate practitioner).
    • There are different types of Karate. You'll find different stances are traditional depending on which type you're practicing. Most types of karate have some variation of the following three stances:[4][5]
      • The natural, or walking stance (shizentai-dachi). Foot foot is pointing forward, back foot is out at a 45-degree angle. Your feet are apart at a natural, or walking, width.
      • The front stance (zenkutsu-dachi).[5] Like the natural stance, but your feet are further apart and your weight is mostly on your front leg.
      • Cat stance, or back stance (nekoashi-dachi). Foot positioning is like the walking stance, but your weight is mostly on your back leg. Your front heel, if you so choose, may be raised.

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