• Culture

    Karate is a Japanese martial art, born in Okinawa which is now part of Japan, then further developed in Japan.

  • History

    It was originally a combination of native Okinawan fighting methods heavily influenced by Chinese kung fu.

  • Founders

    Early karate founders include Kusanku, Chatan Yara, Peichin Takahara, Kanga Sakukawa and Matsumura Sokon.

  • Today

    Today there's dozens of karate clubs & classes around Birmingham – it's the most heavily marketed martial art.

  • Famous people

    Martial arts movie star Chuck Norris is a many-time karate world champion. Elvis also had a karate black belt.

  • Style

    Karate is mostly striking, with a little grappling. Like taekwondo but less jumpy. Like kickboxing but more traditional.

What does "Karate" really mean?

In Japanese, Kara Te means Empty Hand. So quite literally, karate involves the same moves as other empty-handed martial arts. But in common colloquial usage, the word karate tends to refer to that common style where businessmen set up clubs in which members dress up in modern sporty versions of traditional Japanese suits, with bold club logos and belts for every colour of the rainbow, and people rehearse moves in thin air while counting to ten in Japanese and screaming or pulling angry faces. This is not all really necessary as part of a skill-based martial art.