Karate for Kids and for Mom and Dad, Too

Karate for Kids and for Mom and Dad, Too

by Vincent A. Cruz


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Karate is a growing phenomenon in the United States and internationally, and adults as well as children of all ages have discovered this Japanese martial art. In Karate for Kids, author Vincent A. Cruz presents a discussion of the essential physical and philosophical elements of traditional karate and provides clear and purposeful instruction for the young practitioner.

Cruz, an experienced teacher of karate, offers an introduction to traditional karate and shows that is an exciting, healthful, physical art that develops the body and mind and is an effective form of self-defense. In this guide, he

defines the concept of karate;
discusses the history of the martial art;
explains its physical, mental, and spiritual principles and philosophies; and describes and illustrates essential punching, blocking, and kicking techniques.

Geared toward young adults as well as parents, Karate for Kids offers a complete guide to traditional karate using easy-to-follow instructions, caricatures, and diagrams. Cruz communicates how young people can develop a sense of worth through traditional karate and how karate can help youth to master life with an inner respectability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781475958812
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/12/2013
Pages: 172
Sales rank: 808,047
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.37(d)

Read an Excerpt

Karate for Kids and for Mom and Dad, Too

By Vincent A. Cruz

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Vincent A. Cruz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-5881-2

Chapter One

What Is Karate?

Why do people practice karate? Where did it come from?

Modern Karate

Karate means empty hand in Japanese. "Empty hand" refers to the ability of karate students to defend themselves without the use of weapons. Karate consists of basic techniques that block or avoid an attack, and then a counterattack of the opponent by punching, kicking, striking, or any combination of these. O'Sensei2 explains that karate teaches students to develop fast, powerful punches and kicks, as well as skills in joint manipulation and throwing. (The characters at the left, from top down, are kara, te and do. Empty-hand way.)

Karate may mean different things to different people. Young people often take up karate because they want to learn how to defend themselves. Elderly people, on the other hand, may only be looking for an interesting and fun way to stay fit. Parents often enroll their children in karate lessons to teach them discipline and to develop their coordination. Karate is also a very good way to learn much about the culture of Japan as well as the culture of other countries.

Karate originated as a system of unarmed self-defense using only the hands, feet, and body of the practitioner. Karate as a means of self-defense training is based on scientific principles and knowledge of the working muscles and joints, and the relationship between movement and balance. This allows the student of karate to be prepared, both physically and mentally, to defend himself successfully against any attacker.

Karate as a physical art form is almost without equal. It provides fantastic all-around exercise and develops coordination and agility. In addition to its usefulness in self-defense, it is especially useful in keeping in good shape. It is widely practiced by both children and adults as a means of keeping in top physical condition. O'Sensei promotes traditional karate as a physical art among his students.

Karate's Storied Past

There are many legends concerning the origin of karate, and for the most part, historians still ponder the possibilities. It is clear, however, that modern karate as we presently know it is only a couple of hundred years old. The karate we practice today was developed in Okinawa. For hundreds of years, it was influenced by the Chinese, who had been practicing various styles of chuan fa (a Chinese martial art often referred to as kung fu) for centuries. Through trade and exploration, these styles were introduced to Okinawa and ultimately intertwined with the Okinawan styles. In 1922, Gichin Funakoshi brought the fighting style of Okinawa to Japan, where it was christened karate.

Daruma Bodhidarma

A popular legend surrounding the spread of the martial arts centers on Daruma Bodhidharma, who traveled from India into China in the sixth century. Along with his spiritual message, he brought a physical set of exercises, which formed the basis of the famed fighting style of the Shaolin monks.

Bodhidharma was born a prince in the southern regions of India and raised as a warrior to succeed his father as king. He had been trained in the martial arts. Bored with his training, Bodhidharma began to study with a Buddhist teacher. On his deathbed, his teacher asked him to go to China to reawaken the followers of Buddha.

Legend has it that Bodhidharma traversed the Himalayan Mountains and arrived in China around AD 526. He set out in a northerly direction crossing the Tse River and reached the Sung Mountain range, where the Shaolin temple was located. It had been founded forty years earlier by Buddhist monks. Bodhidharma sought entrance into the Shaolin temple. He was accepted only after he was able to prove that he was committed to Buddhism by demonstrating his spiritual enlightenment through prolonged meditation.

Legend has it that Bodhidharma then went to a cave and stared at a wall for seven years. He is said to have cut off his eyelids to stay awake in meditation, and so is usually depicted with bulging eyes. Others say that he cut off his eyelashes and that they fell to the ground and became tea plants. Recognizing the ability of tea to help a person stay awake has made tea a part of the practice of zazen, a seated position of meditation used to develop spiritual enlightenment.

When he arrived, Bodhidharma was shocked to find the monks were fat and without the ability to stay awake during his lectures. The monks were unarmed and were easy victims for bandits when they attempted to go out and teach throughout the land. Some of them were so afraid; they decided to stay in the safety of the monastery. This was one reason Buddhism was no longer as well-known as it had been.

Bodhidharma created an exercise program for the monks that involved physical techniques imitating different animals. Eventually this type of training created the famous martial art of kung fu. After several years, the Shaolin monks became famous as great fighters and defenders of the people. These skills helped the monks to defend themselves against invading warlords and bandits. Bodhidharma taught that martial arts should be used for self-defense and never to hurt or injure needlessly. In fact, one of the oldest Shaolin sayings is "One who engages in combat has already lost the battle."

Bodhidharma also taught medicine to the monks and arranged for Chinese doctors to come to share their knowledge with the Shaolin. In three years, the monks became so skilled in both the martial arts and medicine that they came to be feared and respected by the bandits. This went a long way toward continuing the spread of Buddhism and Zen3 throughout China and the rest of Asia.

The death of Bodhidharma is shrouded in mystery. Legend has it that he was poisoned by one of his followers disappointed at not being selected as the successor. Regardless of the reason, Bodhidharma died in AD 539 at the Shaolin temple at age fifty-seven. He was laid to rest in a tomb there.

The strangest legend regarding Bodhidharma is that three years later, he was met on the road by a government official, walking out of China toward the Himalayas with his staff in his hand and one of his sandals hanging from it. Having dined with Bodhidharma on many occasions, the official was certain it was him. When the official arrived at the monastery and recounted his experience, the monks opened the tomb only to find it contained just a single sandal.

The forms created and taught to these monks are generally believed to be the root of the martial arts in China. While there is evidence portions of these movements existed prior to the arrival of Bodhidharma, it was he who organized and recorded them. From there, they have gone on to spread throughout the world.

From China, it is believed the rudimentary components of martial arts were introduced to Okinawa. They were solidified into the basis of modern karate during the early Japanese occupation of the Ryukyu Islands as a means of self-defense. As the Okinawans were not allowed to perform their martial arts, its practice was done in secrecy. Following the dismantling of the Sho Monarchy of Okinawa in 1879, the practice of karate came out into the open. While the Bodhidarma is generally associated with the early origins of karate, its spread to Japan and the rest of the world is unanimously credited to Gichin Funakoshi, who was invited by the Royal Emperor of Japan to give demonstrations of the art form in the early twentieth century. It was the Japanese who applied the name karate to the style and later introduced it to the world.

Gichin Funakoshi

The man most responsible for the systemization of traditional karate as we know it today was Gichin Funakoshi. He was born in Shuri, Okinawa, in 1869. When only a boy of eleven, he began to study karate under two top masters of the art at that time. In time, he became a karate master instructor and an expert in his own right. He is credited with being the first man to introduce karate to Japan proper, when he gave exhibitions in 1917 and again in 1922 at a physical fitness exposition sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Education. The art soon caught on in Japan, and Funakoshi traveled throughout the country giving lectures and demonstrations. The main universities invited him to help them set up karate teams, and hundreds of people studied the art under his guidance.

In 1957, Master Funakoshi, the father of modern karate, passed away at the advanced age of eighty-eight. Tens of thousands of karate men who learned under him remain, ensuring that the art that he taught will not die with him. Today students all over the world are learning karate, which has become a world art.

Tora no Maki

Master Funakoshi's first book, Ryukyu Kempo: Tode, was edited by Bukyo-Sho in 1922. It included a series of prologues written by some of the most famous people in Japan and Okinawa at that time. On the cover of this book, a famous artist friend of Gichin Funakoshi, Hoan Kosugi, placed the tiger symbol that later would come to symbolize Master Funakoshi's karate.

Hoan Kosugi was inspired by the Japanese saying Tora no Maki, which is a phrase that describes an official document established as a reference on a system. So Ryukyu Kempo would be the Tora no Maki of Tode (translated as "Chinese hand," a term for fist fighting used in early Okinawa). He also felt that Master Funakoshi gave the appearance of a feline due to his way of acting and his movements.

Chapter Two

The Masters

Hi! My name is Diana Linda Michele. I am fourteen years old; I will be fifteen years old on October 1, 2012.

I have a twin brother. His name is Roberto Marcus. I live in the San Joaquin Valley, near Madera, California.

I like all kinds of sports, but my favorite is traditional karate. My brother and I have been studying for six and a half years.

Master Vincent Cruz

My teacher is Master Vincent A. Cruz. He has practiced traditional karate for more than fifty years.

Master Hidetaka Nishiyama

Master Cruz's teacher was Grandmaster Hidetaka Nishiyama; and in turn, Master Nishiyama's teacher was Grandmaster Gichin Funakoshi.

The Rules of Behavior in Karate

Teachers in Japan are called sensei. So from now on, I will call my teacher O'Sensei in this book. The "O" before sensei means that my teacher is a senior master teacher; it is a badge of respect.

Karate is a martial art. You need to know that it requires a lot of discipline. You need to pay attention to what you are doing. You have to do things over and over until you get it right. O'Sensei tells me that practice makes perfect.

There are rules you must know before you start practicing karate. The first rule is that karate begins with respect and it ends with respect. Another important rule is that karate should only be used in self-defense and only when there are no other options. You must never use karate to intentionally injure or hurt someone else. If you have the opportunity to not fight, always choose to simply walk away from trouble. Remember, karate is a martial art and a fighting system. With it, we can cause serious damage to others (and ourselves if we are not careful). It is easy to break a finger when we punch if our fists are not clenched tightly. Once I lost my temper and hit a boy who was teasing me—right in the nose. O'Sensei was not amused, and I had to sit out of karate for the rest of class (not to mention that I had to apologize to the boy who teased me!).

It is the custom in karate for students to wear white uniforms. This is not to say it is wrong if you happen to see someone with a different color than white. O'Sensei tells me that our uniform is our outward appearance in karate. It should be kept clean; the uniform should always be folded and tied with your ranking belt. Since I am in traditional karate, our formal color belts are white, three degrees in brown, and five degrees in the black belt. There are other colors of belts between white and brown, and they signify advancement at different levels. They include yellow, orange, blue, purple, and green. The colors are used as levels of promotion as students get better. The levels of brown belt show how students are becoming strong martial artists and preparing to become black belts.

When you become a black belt, you are really just beginning your journey of mastery of karate. Each level of mastery is called a degree. As you get stronger and develop better technique, you move to a higher degree. In many systems, there are as many as ten degrees of black belts. Since you learn most of the technique during the first five degrees, the last five are given for complete mastery of the system and for years of continuous and careful examination of your karate.

Most karateka (someone who practices karate) keep their original black belt and if possible use it all of their lives. You can always tell someone who has trained a long time because the black belt is often faded and frayed.

Chapter Three

Basic Concepts

There are a few karate principles you need to know before we begin. They form the basis for all karate and all karate training. I will talk a little about each. The four most basic parts of training are:

Kihon (basic techniques);

Kata (form or pattern);

Bunkai (study of techniques encoded in kata or "kata application"); and

Kumite (sparring or paired form)


Kihon means "basics" or "fundamentals"; it is by far the most important part of the art of karate. Without strong basic techniques, we cannot hope to perform effective karate. O'Sensei's teacher, Master Nishiyama, was regarded as one of the greatest karateka because his basic techniques were of a standard many of us can only dream of achieving.

Traditional karate is famous for giving its practitioners a strong kihon. In kihon, you learn the karate way of punching, blocking, kicking, and body movement. Often you will do drills for your sensei that may be monotonous and boring; however, you should always try your absolute best and snap out your blocks, punches, and kicks. I always work out this way because the way

A traditional karate training session will involve hundreds of repetitions of different punching action. It may take a class of beginners an hour to reach a point in the lesson where they actually punch using both arms at once. Kicking is also very important in traditional karate. The student is required to learn the different basic kicking techniques and spend many hours practicing. Kihon is not just a "beginners" exercise. It is practiced throughout your karate training, from white belts to the highest-ranking black belts.


In kata, you learn to combine the basic techniques in a flowing movement. Each kata is built around a specific fighting strategy for you to understand. Always remember to look where you're going, and remember what you learned in kihon.


Bunkai literally means "analysis." In bunkai, you analyze every movement in a given kata and develop possible applications in real combat situations. Bunkai is a transition step to kumite. A single kata may be broken into anywhere from a few to a few dozen applications, and the same sequence of kata moves may sometimes be interpreted in different ways, resulting in several bunkai. This allows the student to understand what the movements in kata are meant to accomplish. For example, if an opponent threw a punch toward your face, you would need to defend with a block for a high punch. The same would be true for a kick or some other strike. By practicing kata, you learn to put combinations of blocks, punches, or kicks together that make sense in a real situation. Bunkai helps you to understand what your opponent is doing and how you are reacting. It may also illustrate how to improve techniques by adjusting distances, executing proper timing, and adjusting a technique depending on the size of an opponent. O'Sensei requires his students to perform bunkai for promotion.


In kumite, you learn to apply kihon and bunkai in a controlled environment. When you train in kumite in a dojo, there are rules to follow so no one gets hurt. You train to control your strikes so contact with your opponent is not made. Punches and kicks are hard; however, with practice you learn to stop them short of hitting your partner. Both opponents are trying to score points, not hurt one another. While I like kumite very much, this is where I lost my cool and hit the boy who was making fun of me.


Excerpted from Karate for Kids and for Mom and Dad, Too by Vincent A. Cruz Copyright © 2013 by Vincent A. Cruz. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter One — What Is Karate?....................1
Chapter Two — The Masters....................9
Chapter Three — Basic Concepts....................12
Chapter Four: Basic Principles....................16
Chapter Five — Philosophy....................21
Chapter Six — Getting Started....................29
Chapter Seven: Organizing the Karate Techniques....................32
Chapter Eight: Stances....................38
Chapter Nine: Body Posturing and Shifting....................51
Chapter Ten: Punching Techniques....................56
Chapter Eleven: Basic Punching Techniques....................64
Chapter Twelve: Striking Techniques, Uchi Waza....................75
Chapter Thirteen: Blocking....................87
Chapter Fourteen: Kicking Techniques....................107
Chapter Fifteen: The Kata....................119
Chapter Sixteen: Combining Techniques....................125
Suggested Reading List....................147
About the Author....................149

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