Karate (空手?) ( /kəˈrɑːtiː/; ) is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed partially from indigenous fighting methods called te (手?, literally "hand"; Tii in Okinawan) and from Chinese martial arts. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. In some styles, grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught. A karate practitioner is called a karateka (空手家?). There are several different styles of karate, most of them stemming from the same genealogical tree, and some others acquiring the name "karate" for practical reasons while actually deriving from a mix of other martial arts. Each style of karate stresses some techniques more than others, or has some differences in performing the same techniques from what other styles do. However, most karate schools and styles adhere to the same basic principles, and use the same basic attire, stances, and terminology.
Karate was possibly developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom, but there is historical proof that karate (Okinawa-te or karate-jutsu) was systematically taught in Japan after the Taisho era (after 1912). It was brought to the Japanese mainland in the early 20th century during a time of cultural exchanges between the Japanese and the Ryukyuans. In 1922 the Japanese Ministry of Education invited Gichin Funakoshi to Tokyo to give a karate demonstration. In 1924 Keio University established the first university karate club in Japan and by 1932, major Japanese universities had karate clubs. In this era of escalating Japanese militarism, the name was changed from 唐手 ("Chinese hand" or "Tang hand" verbatim, as the name of the Tang dynasty was a synonym to China in Okinawa) to 空手 ("empty hand") – both of which are pronounced karate – to indicate that the Japanese wished to develop the combat form in Japanese style. After the Second World War, Okinawa became an important United States military site and karate became popular among servicemen stationed there.
The martial arts movies of the 1960s and 1970s served to greatly increase the popularity of martial arts around the world, and in English the word karate began to be used in a generic way to refer to all striking-based Oriental martial arts. Karate schools began appearing across the world, catering to those with casual interest as well as those seeking a deeper study of the art.
Shigeru Egami, Chief Instructor of Shotokan Dojo, opined "that the majority of followers of karate in overseas countries pursue karate only for its fighting techniques ... Movies and television ... depict karate as a mysterious way of fighting capable of causing death or injury with a single blow ... the mass media present a pseudo art far from the real thing." Shoshin Nagamine said "Karate may be considered as the conflict within oneself or as a life-long marathon which can be won only through self-discipline, hard training and one's own creative efforts."
For many practitioners, karate is a deeply philosophical practice. Karate-do teaches ethical principles and can have spiritual significance to its adherents. Gichin Funakoshi ("Father of Modern Karate") titled his autobiography Karate-Do: My Way of Life in recognition of the transforming nature of karate study. Today karate is practiced for self-perfection, for cultural reasons, for self-defense and as a sport.
In 2009, in the 121th IOC (International Olympic Committee) voting, karate did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority vote to become an Olympic sport. Web Japan (sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs) claims there are 50 million karate practitioners worldwide while the WKF claims there are 100 million practitioners around the world.