March 22, 2017



Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Budo, Chinese martial arts, judo, jujutsu, kata, kickboxing, kihon, kumite, martial arts.


  • Karate is a martial art of Okinawan origin. It involves many techniques, including blocks, strikes, evasions, throws and joint manipulations.

  • The idea behind karate is not to win against the enemy outside the body, but to win against oneself. Karate is used to battle against one's own fear, doubt and indecisiveness. Therefore, it involves both physical and psychological training.

  • While karate is used as a method of self-defense, those who practice it express respect for their opponent(s).

  • After mastering the techniques, one can be promoted to the first-degree black belt rank. One can be promoted up to the fourth-degree based on technical excellence. Promotion thereafter is based on one's maturity of technique and dedication to the art. The highest rank, ninth degree, is only given after an individual has studied karate throughout his or her life and achieved maturity (over 60 or 70 years old).


  • Karate, like any physical activity, is likely to have health benefits. Scientific studies suggest that karate may increase an individual's balance, flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance.


  • Kihon (basics): Kihon is the study of the fundamental techniques, including, punching mechanics, footwork and stances.

  • Kata (forms): Kata are patterns of defensive and offensive techniques performed against imaginary attacks from different directions. The five elements include: mental control (SHIN), mental energy (SHIN), physical techniques (RYOKU), smoothness in coordination and proper rhythm of the movements.

  • Kumite (sparring): Students practice karate techniques against an opponent in a controlled environment. Students learn to control their opponent's timing and distance, and to use these factors effectively in a sparring situation.


  • A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted before beginning any new exercise program.

  • Train under the supervision of a martial arts instructor.

  • Wear the appropriate protective gear.

  • Exercise to strengthen the stabilizer muscles, including the rotator cuff muscles, hip adductors (inner thigh muscles or groins) and abductors (muscles on the outermost part of the hip).

  • Maintain proper breathing techniques when practicing martial arts to avoid injury -breath out during the contraction portion of any stretching movement, and breath in during the extension portion of any stretching movement.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Japan Karate Association Chicago. 11 May 2006. http://jkachicago.com/philosophy.htm

  2. Sandokai Karate. Kihon-Training Drills. 10 may 2006. http://www.sandokai.co.uk/kihon.html

  3. Shotokan Karate of America. 10 May 2006. http://www.ska.org/index.php?p=2

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017