Style Guide: Karate

Karate is again an umbrella term, this time for many of the martial arts of Japan. It’s considered a hard style, though there are some varieties which have exceptions to this. As a generalization, Karate uses a balance of hand strikes and kicks, and tends to remain in deep stances — but not so low as to be on the ground, though there are some techniques for fighting from that depth. Hand strikes use closed-fist punches and open-hand techniques. There are also some grabbing and grappling techniques, but the range most associated with Karate is kicking and punching.

Here’s a kata that embodies the style most associated with Karate.


And check this out, too. Note how the precision and clarity of the techniques make the kata and following “two-man set” demonstration very easy to follow.


From a performance and stage combat perspective, note how the demonstrators get out-of-sync with each other during the sequence starting at 2:10, and then are back in the same time together when they restart at 2:21. When they’re out-of-sync, we instantaneously lose clarity. Even though the “aggressor” has great targeting, his positioning and proportion are off, losing a bit of energy in his knee attack. The “victim” is unable to respond to the incoming attack. As a result, we don’t know what the story is.