An Abbreviated History of Karate
The origin of karate in uncertain, however, the most acceptable theory is that some 1500 years ago a Buddhist priest, "Daruma Taishi" (Bodhidharma), of southern India was exiled from India and fled to China. Once in China, Daruma was given shelter by the Shaolin monks. To repay the monks for their kindness Daruma attempted to teach them his secrets of Zen meditation. Daruma's secret of Zen was very difficult to learn, and the intense practice of austerity during the training period weakened his disciples mentally and physically. Many who desired to study his teachings fell by the wayside. To correct this situation, Daruma taught them a form of exercise to build their self and inner-self called "Eki Kinkyo" which is the doctrine of inseparability of spirit and body.
The priests practiced this form and became famous throughout China for the ability to defend themselves from multiple attackers with apparently no effort. In years to come, the warlords overran the temples, and the priests fled to neighboring countries to teach what is now called karate.
In the 17th century, the feudal lords of Okinawa, Japan, and China bore down on the people of the provincial areas outside the limits of the big cities. Tax collectors were ruthless and often took extra sums for their own pockets. Violence and even Murder occurred when any of the peasants dared to defy them. In the face of this plunder and murder, law forbade the peasants to own weapons of any kind. To protect themselves, the peasants used karate--thus the meaning of "karate" (empty or open hand).
While there is no tyrant or overbearing tax collector today, in most modern countries karate continues to spread. One reason is the high crime rate, which is ever on the rise, making this age old form of self-defense as much a need today as ever. Karate, however, is popular mainly because of the benefits of its exercise and the general feeling of satisfaction that comes from a well-trained body and mind.
Learning karate involves acquiring a through knowledge of striking methods, nerve centers and pressure points, fighting stances, blocking, defense against deadly attacks, conditioning and training equipment. Allied fields of interest include Ki power (which involves the control of the various systems of the body), the respiratory system, the nervous system, the muscle system and remotely the digestive system and breathe control, which may be utilized to increase the physical power of the body.