Karate is a martial art consisting of punches, kicks, blocks
and a small number of throws. It is practiced barefoot, wearing a white suit [gi], with a belt around the waist, denoting
the skill level that the student has attained.
Karate students (karateka) of all levels practice the basics
- kicks, blocks and punches, both singly and in combinations. This basic training improves their execution of technique, builds
stamina, and improves their stance.
Karateka also practice sequences of movement called kata, which
are set pieces of attacks and defences against opponents from all sides. Most of the time these kata are practiced alone,
but for displays, the complete kata is sometimes performed with the attackers playing their part.
There are pre-determined attacks and defences for pairs of students
to master (ippon kumite), and finally there is free-sparring (kumite), where students use their skill and strategy to score
points from their opponent.
There are several styles of karate, each with slightly different
interpretation of kata and basic form. The biggest schools are Wado ryu, Shotokan, Goju ryu and Shito ryu.