Differences between traditional karate and modern schools

Traditional karate, that is original karate, came into being as an art of fight in Japan. Traditional karate is based on the conception of the "finishing blow". The finishing blow is defined as a technique sufficient to render an attacking opponent. Together with other accompanying techniques, the finishing blow technique unites in itself the total body power, focusing it on one blow. Traditional karate competition is entirely based an the art of self-defence. For example, only the finishing blow technique is awarded a point. Moreover, according to the rule that the finishing blow is the last blow of the fight, in traditional karate competition the fight lasts till one point is awarded. Thanks to the rigorous observing this rule, the number of facile actions and careless techniques is limited to a minimum.

As in the case of every other art of self-defence, the height and the weight of the competitor is neither defined nor important. According to the rules of self defence competitors must be ready to repel the attack of every opponent, regardless of his weight and height. Moreover, many a time an individual who attacks is of a more powerful build than the attacked person.

As a sports discipline, traditional karate uses the tournament as one of training means and a way to enrich the general development of an individual through a higher emotional equilibrium, inner discipline and complying with the rules of etiquette. Altogether, these objectives create a framework of traditional karate sports rules.

Other, modern karate schools are descended from traditional karate. New schools based their techniques and stances on punches and kicks of the Japanese karate. Keeping the external resemblance, these schools introduced some basic changes. Changes in philosophy and moving the stress from the art of fight and self-defence to the point awarded sports competition consisting in punching and kicking, had biggest consequences. For example, it does not take an expert to notice that modern schools took from karate punching and kicking techniques only in the most general sense. In sports competition points are awarded on the basis of possibly the fastest and the most precise hitting the target with a fist or a foot. In view of this fact, the "finishing blow" requirement became unnecessary. As a result, it became unnecessary to put power generated from the total body movement into punches and kicks. Moreover, the main stress was put on the economy of movements. In this most important respect, body dynamics of modern karate schools is a complete opposite of traditional karate dynamics. After getting rid of the finishing blow requirement, new karate schools based their sports rules on a multi-point system, instead. In modern karate usually either three or six times half a point is awarded.

Traditional karate is based on the art of self-defence. As, in consequence, the weight and the height of the opponent do not matter, there are no weight categories. Meanwhile, modern karate schools treat a fight as a sports event, not as an art. Therefore, one of modern karate schools has eight different weight categories.