Karate-Do literally means “the way of Karate.” The two Chinese characters making up the word Karate (空手) translate to “empty hand.” “Kara” connotes “emptiness,” but can also mean “sky,” which symbolically refers to the universe or nature. “Kara” also means “absence of everything that is negative” and can mean “method” or “means.” “Te” also refers to the means by which to live most productively, peacefully and in harmony with each other and the universe.
“Do,” means “way” or “path.” This emphasizes that Karate is much more then techniques. Karate was at one time (as were other Japanese martial arts such as Ju-Jutsu) referred to as “Karate-Jutsu.” “Jutsu” meaning “technique” (also spelled “Jitsu” in some cases). With all this said, in traditional Karate, it is rare for the serious long-term student to refer to “taking Karate.” They may call it “studying Karate-Do,” or “following the Way of Karate.” This does not connote or suggest any religious or “cult” meanings whatsoever. Through serious study and practice of Karate-Do, our children can gain numerous benefits. The balance of the mind and body is always existent while practicing Karate. Concentration is necessary, while the body must make the physical effort. This is excellent in particular for the brain and the central nervous system.
Children also see and learn the natural order of progression and the need to learn simple things first and then gradually learn things that are more advanced. They learn the need to do basic stances, punches, kicks and blocks first without a partner, then after with a partner. A comparison of this would be a baby having to crawl before being able to walk, etc. A very important aspect of Karate-Do for children is respect and learning to get along and co-operate with others. If ever an accident happens, children learn forgiveness based on mutual respect and learn how to maintain friendship, maintain respect for each other and how to continue the relationship.
While in many sports and other activities, only the most talented get to participate while the others sit and watch (or are left out of the activity altogether or choose not to participate altogether due to lack of confidence) and may feel “I’m no good,” in Karate-Do everyone gets to participate regardless of ability or inability. Confidence building is of utmost importance, as are setting goals and achieving them, learning how to deal with failure and success, and to always continue are things always present in all stages of Karate-Do, no matter how long one studies. One can practice Karate-Do during one’s youth and as a lifetime activity for a healthy, happy and productive life. Copyright 2016