SI Vault
Roger Price
June 26, 1961
The oriental 'Martial' art of 'Karate' has gained a wide and growing audience in recent months. Magazines and newspapers do features on it, the hero of a TV series useskarate instead of a gun to eliminate his antagonists, how-to books are piling off the assembly lines andkarate schools are opening up like pizza parlors.
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June 26, 1961

The Oriental 'martial' Art Of 'karate'

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According to legend, the inventor of karate was also the founder of Zen, Daruma Taishi, who lived in the sixth century and was the head of an obscure sect of monks given to wearing beards and writing poetry who performed their devotionals in coffee houses. By constant practice the members of this sect learned to kill a man with a six-inch blow.

This group soon became extinct. However, their science of assassination spread throughout the Orient and was developed to its present excellence by the natives of Okinawa. When the Japanese conquered them in the 17th century the Okinawans were forbidden to own any sort of weapons. As a result, they studied karate, secretly, so that they could cope when necessary with belligerent and heavily armed samurai.

Later it was introduced to Japan, where it got its name—kara (empty) plus te (hand). Today all of the technical terms used in karate such as shuto, tsuki, geri and ouch! are of Japanese origin. Geri means "kick." Tsuki means "blow."

The shuto is the best-known karate blow, a paralyzing smash with the side of the hand, which has been hardened by constant pounding on something. Or someone. The serious karate-ka will spend months pounding his hand against a table top or a brick. Minimum practice is considered to be 300 pounds a day. Eventually the side of his hand develops a callus, which will enable him to use it as a club; after a couple of weeks of pounding he certainly isn't going to be able to use it as a hand.

A shuto delivered to the base of an opponent's skull can dislocate his spine, unhinge his pelvis and run down the battery on his automobile. If followed up with a kin-geri (groin kick) and a couple of me-tsuki (eye gouges) it may also cause loss of appetite and, sometimes, Bad Feeling.

The Shuto is also the tsuki used most often for the theatrical form of karate called tamesi-wari (busting-up stuff), the practice of chopping-in-two stones, bricks, tiles and four-inch wooden planks. Tamesi-wari is merely a device used to demonstrate karate (there are no such things, of course, as formal karate "matches") and to frighten Squares. But it is highly spectacular.

A young man who had had only three hours of training in the American Advanced Super Karate recently gave me an amazing demonstration. He struck a regulation-size brick with only his bare hand, and it broke immediately—on the first blow. In fact, it broke in four places, including the thumb, and he is still wearing it in a cast.

I cannot list all of the hundreds of karate tsukis, geris and pinans (forms) here, but I will try to note a few in order to provide you with a better understanding of this fabulous science.

Jiyu-Kumite (free fighting) is useful when meeting an opponent who is walking down a dark street toward the bushes in which you are hidden. First use go no sen by stepping out and assuming a charming smile. Then cleverly misdirect his attention by saying: "Hey, Joe, you want to lend me a match?"

When he pauses to reach into his pocket, counter this threatening gesture by bringing the left seiken (fist) down in a powerful gedan-tsuki (low blow) to his abdomen (Oooof!).

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