What is Karate?

Why you should train Shotokan Karate

Karate will transform your life.

Boost your mind, get stronger, and live in harmony.

To practice karate is not about following a simple workout program. It is about developing a deep connection with your body, and making it the tool your spirit can grow with. Karate-dō, more than a martial art, is a way of life (道 , way) — one that leads you to broaden your beliefs, expand your limits, and improve different aspects of life. It leads you to a better understanding of yourself.

Improve your mobility. Perform well under pressure. Quiet your mind. Be present.

Observe small transformations happening every day. Those are the ones that stick, the ones that will change you for life.


Table of Contents

What is Karate-dō?

Karate-dō is a Japanese martial art that helps to properly develop authentically good and righteous character. It does so working mind, technique and body together. 

Karate-dō is not only about competing and training to be champions. It is about teaching respect — respect to others and to yourself.

Karate-dō has no age, the youth and the seniors can practice, the important is striving to improve and constant practice.

Is Karate for me?

Karate is for everybody and everyone — you will improve as you practice. Age, sex, flexibility, and strength do not define who you are.

Only you can tell what is your limit. The higher the commitment the better the results. 

First Karate Class - Bowing
Rei: a demonstration of respect. Training @ the JKS Headquarters in japan.

Why should I practice Karate-dō?

From improving general body constitution and health, to helping diminishing and managing anxiety, Karate doesn’t require more than your willingness to continue training and pushing yourself.

Benefits of Training Karate


You will learn to use your whole body.

If you kick using your hips, thighs, and legs, but forget to control your feet properly, for example, you will not produce the same velocity and impact as a technique engaging the entire body.

Without proper control — from the tip of your toes to the top of your head — you can’t reach its maximum capacity, and the technique will not generate the same amount of power. Even the most basic one-step or three-steps sparring drills — Kihon Ippon Kumite and Sanbon Kumite — are not effective without working the whole body.

With training, you start to understand how your body works, what is needed to activate all muscles involved in each technique — and how to fire them in the correct order.

A white belt and a black belt can execute the same punch at the same time. Still, the more experienced karateka will produce much more power — the proper engagement of muscles and the complete transference of energy in one precise moment takes time. You will learn to do that.

You’ll also learn who you are, not just how your body works. Self-awareness is a significant component of growing your Karate. Regardless of physical strength, inborn abilities, age and sex, Karate-dō focuses on making you better.

Respect Is the Rule


Inside the dojo, you need to follow the traditional etiquette so all the members can practice in an environment of mutual respect. With time you learn that this behaviour should expand the boundaries of the dojo and take it to your life — Karate starts and ends with courtesy/respect.

Accepting differences and focusing on training solely is the purest expression of respect to your training partners. That will make not just you but everybody grow and the ability of the group to increase as a whole. To start practicing is to set a moment of your day to grow as a human being.

Accepting differences and focusing on training solely is the purest expression of respect to your training partners.

You have to be diligent with your training. That shows respect to your instructors an to your peers, who are giving their very best to help you; It also demonstrates respect to you, and that’s invaluable.

We understand that you may not have all the time in the world, but plan ahead so you can be on time for the training sessions you committed yourself to attend.

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When you start to train Karate-dō, you will notice your body will adapt, you will become stronger, faster. Your mind will also change, you will gain self-awareness. Train enough, and your entire life will change around you — your spirit will be in peace.

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Starting as an adult


Sadamu Uriu. 90 years old and still practicing and teaching!

You might think not but, unless your doctor says otherwise, you are perfectly fine to start training a martial art like Karate.

More than just physically strenuous exercises, Karate is about learning to control body and mind. To unify and use both spectrums is the real objective of our teachings.

Karate training will always use body weight and sometimes auxiliary equipment like elastic bands, dumbbells or kettlebells — this is exceptionally beneficial to adults and seniors. If you have little flexibility, the increased blood flow, the relaxations and the exercises will give you high mobility. Rather than boring muscle-specific isolated exercises, you will work your whole body at once. By doing so, you alleviate the impact generated and quickly start to feel lighter and more flexible — capable of punching, kicking, grappling, and jumping with better form.

Body composition and athletic conditioning are different from person to person, and they change in each stage of life. The actual value of training relies on having knowledge about your own body and staying persistent. In other words: keep pushing your limits; don’t give up.

Karate will decrease sedentarism, combat stress and give you the opportunity to enjoy life with a sharper mind and a healthy and strong body.

Women in Karate?


Women in Karate
Nayane senpai during Kata competition

The core of every Karate movement is the Hara/Tanden, basically the physical and energetic centre of our body. All techniques were created with a focus on hip rotation and correct activation of the Hara.

When combined with the proper activation of your muscles, the power generated is amplified largely. Japanese people generally have a small body composition and have developed Karate so the weaker could defeat the stronger.

A unique combination of spiritual and mental theories from the East and biomechanics’ study from the West transformed Karate into a martial art that develops integral growth — working mind, body, and spirit in unison.

More and more women are practicing and teaching Karate around the world. This is a statement of proof that Karate is exceptionally practical for health maintenance; it awakens your inner power and boosts your confidence as a woman.

Contrary to what many might think, Karate is not violent. One of the 5 Dojo-Kun explicitly commands that one should refrain from violent behaviour. During sparring drills, and even competition fights, everything is executed with extreme caution and control — always under the supervision of qualified instructors.

Develop the tools you need to grow confident, always within your limits — you might be surprised by how far you can go.

Kumite Icon

Karate strengthens family bonds, including mother-daughter and father-son connections. It improves your relationship with coworkers, with classmates and with your friends.

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Karate F.A.Q

Frequently asked questions about karate-dō.

What is Karate?

Karate-dō is a martial art that works mind, skills and body in unison. A systematic conditioning of arms, hands, legs and feet.

Karate promotes improved mobility and teaches the focus and willpower to deliver precise, powerful techniques.

To practice karate-dō is to seek individual improvement. It teaches discipline respect for others, and it can be practiced at all ages. All you need is consistency and the perseverance of training as often as possible.

Is Karate Japanese or Chinese?

Karate is not Chinese, but it is complicated.

As far as our research can tell, around the 13th Century, Okinawa was part of the Ryukyu Kingdom (Ryūkyū Ōkoku 琉球王国) and served the Chinese Empire. During that time, Okinawa had a fighting system called Te or Ti (手). Naha-te, Tomari-te, and Shuri-te — Okinawan Indigenous martial arts — helped to identify the differences between the practice in different villages.

The tight relationship between Ryukyu and China also echoed in the martial arts world. Some of the Chinese fighting styles and techniques were integrated into the Okinawan style, creating what was known as 唐手 (Tō-de) — Chinese Hands.

After many years of cultivating the Tō-de in Okinawa, some of its practitioners wanted to bring it to mainland Japan. And, to help with acceptance, they changed the name of the practice from 唐手 to 空手. 唐 (Tō) also reads as kara in Japanese, so they switched the kanji to 空, which has the same pronunciation but carries a different meaning: Empty. 唐手 (Tō-de) starts to be called 空手 (karate).

From our standpoint, karate is not Chinese. However, it does have very strong ties with Chinese martial arts.

What is the Purpose of Karate?

The purpose of Karate is the development of karate.

Karate was developed as a self-defense system, and it should remain as such. However, its insertion from Okinawa into the mainland Japanese culture also brought up new philosophical teachings, working not only the body but the mind and the spirit.

To practice karate-dō is to seek self-improvement.

Is Karate a Sport?

Karate is not a sport, however it currently has a sport component. So no, but also yes.

Karate is, in its ethos, a martial art. It was developed as a self-defense system, conditioning hands, legs and the body to be used as your weapon of choice. However, the best (or safest) way to test your skills is in a controlled environment, hence the development of competition style bouts (sport) is inevitable.

What is Traditional Karate?

Karate practice is “traditional by default”. Kihon (basics) kata (form) and kumite (sparring) are the three pillars of every training, and they work together to create a complete karateka. Traditional karate focuses on self-defence and personal growth and is applicable in everyday life.

Conversely, sports karate dedicates to either kumite or kata focusing on a point-based system. It may be integrated with traditional training, but it has a different purpose.

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What Is Karate?

The Japan Karate Shoto Federation

The Shinjigenkan Institute is associated to the Japan Karate Shoto Federation – JKS (or Japan Karate Shotorenmei 日本空手松涛連盟 in Japanese), an entity founded by Tetsuhiko Asai and currently led by Masao Kagawa (9th Dan).

Tetsuhiko (The Thunderstorm) Asai

Tetsuhiko Asai shihan was one of the greatest karateka of all time. He has become a true legend. 

Since the 1940s, he devoted his life, body and soul to karate. To many, his acrobatic movements, skills, and knowledge were almost supernatural. Modest and humble, Asai introduced a wide range of techniques to karate — many brought from Chinese martial arts. 

Thoughtful leader, Asai was appointed as the technical director of the Japan Karate Association (JKA), leading the Kenshuusei for many years. However, after the passing of Nakayama sensei, the JKA experienced political troubles and split. And after losing a 10-year legal battle, Asai and other colleagues (including Keigo Abe and Mikio Yahara) left the JKA. Asai started a new organization, with the mission of propagating a more inclusive and comprehensive karate: the Japan Karate Shotorenmei (JKS). 

Apart from the ranking of 10th dan in shotokan karate, he also held the ranks of 3rd dan in jodo, 2nd dan in judo, 2nd dan in jukendo, and 2nd dan in kendo.

Japan Karate Shotorenmei

train karate in winnipeg
Haupenthal sensei and Nayane senpai with JKS Karate instructors at the Honbu Dojo in Tokyo – Japan

Your First Karate Class

What to expect when you start practicing.

I don’t have experience in Karate. Do you have a beginners class?

Our group is friendly and respectful of new students. It is part of who we are. After all, we all started as beginners.

Almost all the people who join are inexperienced. We will start teaching you the basics and work our way up to intermediate and advanced levels. And we do that together.

We firmly believe that a class with both beginners and more experienced students promotes a stronger and faster growth of the group.

What should I bring to my first karate class?

For the most part, you need to wear your gym gear — or some clothes that allow you to move freely.

Do I need a uniform (karate-gi)?

Not for your first few classes — see above. However, as training progresses, having a karate-gi (karate uniform) becomes essential. You will move better and save your regular clothes.

Uniforms for jiu-jitsu, judo, taekwondo, and others are not accepted.

Do you offer trial Karate classes?

The first week is on us. We want you to come and feel it.

Sign up below and come to train with our group, we are sure you will enjoy the classes. We love teaching karate and we hope you experience that.

I practiced karate in the past. Do I need to go back to the white belt?

Usually not, come with the belt you have (and bring your certificate, if you have one). We will evaluate your experience and adjust according to the JKS grading system.

When is the next intake?

Registrations are ongoing. As long as we have classes, you can join. We do prefer that you start on a Monday, however, we understand if that is not possible. 

Please be punctual — arriving early to get ready is a good idea.

Create a strong body, even locked at home.

5 Bulletproof ways to keep training karate during lockdown

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