Karate is a Japanese martial art and sports wrestling, combining self-defense and attack techniques.

The origins and development of karate in the world

Karate (Japanese “way of the empty hand”) is a Japanese martial art that combines attack and self-defense techniques with physical and spiritual development. The art uses the human body (palms, hands, elbows, legs, knees and head) as main weapons.

Karate was created by Bodhidharma, who is also the founder of Zen Buddhism. In 520 AD, he moved his residence from India to the Shaolin Monastery in China. To this day, this monastery is the center of Buddhism, as well as the center of physical and mental education of the followers of this teaching.

Subsequently, this martial art was taken to the island of Okinawa (Japan), where it was mixed with local methods of wrestling. This is considered the origin of karate (Okinawa-te). Until the 1870s, karate in Japan was prohibited and taught underground.

Motobu Choki

In 1901, karate was introduced into the program of training schools in Okinawa as a subject of physical education. The most authoritative masters of Okinawa karate at the end of the 19th and early 20th century were Asato Anko, Higaonna Kanryo, Motobu Choki and Itosu Yasutsune. Their trainees became the founders of the most famous schools of Japanese karate.

In 1924, Gichin Funakoshi opened the first public karate club at the University of Tokyo in Japan.

In 1948, the Japan Karate Association (JKA) was established, headed by Funakoshi, bringing together leading experts in this martial art. Since that time, karate began to develop as a sport.

Over time, karate became more and more popular all over the world. In the United States, all striking arts are considered karate.

In November 1965, the European Karate Union (EKU) was established.

In May 1966, the first European Karate Championship was held in Paris, and then it became annual.

In summer 1970, the World Karate Federation (WKF) was established in Paris.

The World Karate Federation (WKF) combines four main styles: Shotokan (founder Gichin Funakoshi), Goju-ryu (founder Chojun Miyagi), Wado-ryu (founder Hironori Otsuka), and Shito-ryu (founder Kenwa Mabuni).

Shito-ryu includes powerful Shuri-te kata (movements), hard and soft Naha-te kata, and artistic kata of the Chinese White Crane style.

Goju-ryu is one of the main traditional styles of karate. It is based on close combat techniques, including elbow strikes, knee strikes, throws, grabbing and fighting on the ground. There are three main variants of this style: Okinawa, Japanese and American.

Wado-ryu is one of the four major karate styles. Its key principle is to move the defender as well as the attacker out of harm's way.

Shotokan is a karate style using linear displacements and force application.

Kyokushinkai is a style of contact karate using high kicks and powerful punches.

Wado-ryu is considered the “most Japanese” style, Goju-ryu is the “most Chinese”, Shito-ryu is the “most Okinawan”, and Shotakan is the “most academic” style.

Gichin Funakoshi

Chojun Miyagi

Hironori Otsuka

Kenwa Mabuni

In October 1970, the first karate world championship was held in Tokyo among men in the absolute weight category.

In the Soviet Union, karate appeared from the mid-60s, during the Khrushchev’s “thaw” policy. From 1973 to 1978, karate was banned in the USSR.

In December 1978, the USSR Karate Federation and the Federation of the Union Republics were established.

In 1981, the first USSR Karate Championship was held. However, in 1984, for ideological reasons, the USSR Sports Committee issued an order on the prohibition of karate training in sports societies, which operated until 1989.

In 1990, the USSR Karate Federation was re-established, which joined the World Karate Federation (WKF). The USSR national team for the first time took part in the Tenth World Championships in Mexico.

1996 was a good year for the Russian national team. At the World Championship in Sun City (South Africa), Aslan Gubashiev took the 1st place in the weight category up to 70 kg and Andrei Anikin won the 2nd place in the weight category up to 80 kg.

Aslan Gubashiev

In 2004, the Russian Karate Federation was established in the Russian Federation.

Karate has long been one of the sports-candidates for inclusion in the program of the Olympic Games. One of the obstacles to the status of an Olympic sport was the high injury of wrestlers.

On April 16, 2015, a joint conference was held in Tokyo with the participation of representatives of the Japanese Karate Federation (JKF). The conference announced that the organizations concluded an alliance with the aim of strengthening the positions of karate in the fight for a place at the 2020 Olympics.

On May 25, 2016, the WKF announced the Olympic qualification process. From 2020, karate will be an Olympic sport.

Karate has a system of beginners’ (Kyu) and masters’ (Dan) grades, using a set of belt colors. The traditional system provides for a beginner a white belt that darkens with increasing skill. The black belt matches the highest Dan grade.

Karate ranks:

  • 9th Kuy: white belt;
  • 8th Kyu: yellow belt;
  • 7th Kyu: orange belt;
  • 6th Kyu: green belt;
  • 5th Kyu: red belt;
  • 4th Kyu: purple belt;
  • 3rd Kyu: brown belt;
  • 2nd Kyu: brown belt;
  • 1st Kyu: brown belt;
  • 1st Dan and higher Dan levels: black belt.

Today WKF incorporates five associations: Asian Karate-do Federation (AKF), European Karate Federation (EKF), Australian Karate Federation (OUKO), Pan-American Karate Federation (PKF), and African Karate Federation (AKF).

The development of karate in Belarus

In the late 1970s, the first karate sections appeared in the BSSR.

Leonid Lushchik

In April 1978, an open championship was held in Minsk, which actually had republican status. The winners of the championship were Leonid Lushchik, Vladimir Sidorenko, V. Pashkov.

The 1979 BSSR Championship was a significant event for karate in Belarus. It was held in Minsk, in the Palace of Athletics. Oleg Kiriyenko won in the absolute category.

In December 1979, Oleg Kiriyenko became the champion at the First All-Union Karate Championship; Leonid Lushchik and Vladimir Sidorenko won silver medals.

The first karate championship in the BSSR
Book Первые шаги белорусского каратэ

Oleg Kiriyenko
Book Первые шаги белорусского каратэ

Belarusian karatekas under the leadership of Oleg Kiriyenko and Andrey Vilkin participated as stuntmen in the shooting of feature films Емельян Пугачёв (Emelyan Pugachev) (Mosfilm) and Дочь командира (Commander’s Daughter) (Belarusfilm).

Shot from the film Дочь командира ( Commander's Daughter)
Book Первые шаги белорусского каратэ

In 1989, the Union of Karate Organizations of the USSR for the first time presented the national team, which also included two Belarusian wrestlers Anatoly Kuryanovich and Sergei Guchenko.

Karate in Belarus at the present time

In 1991, the Belarusian Karate Federation was established and registered (BFK; website: http://shotokan.by), which in 1992 received recognition from the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus.

In 1992, the BFK joined the World Karate Federation and got the opportunity to participate in the World Karate Championship.

In 1996, at the initiative of the Belarusian Karate Federation, the Shotokan Karate-do Academy was established. The founders and leaders of the Academy were Svetlana Vilkina (Honored Master of Sports, the only holder in Eastern Europe of the Fifth Dan WKF) and Andrey Vilkin (the holder of the Seventh Dan WKF).

Svetlana Vilkina

Andrey Vilkin
Book Победы, добытые в боях

Among the graduates of the Shotokan Karate-do Academy there are twenty three owners of black belts: Alexey Vilkin, Konstantin Vishnevsky, Marina Alekseeva, Pavel Gorbatsevich, Alexander Zenevich, Nadezhda Kern and others.

The European Championship in Shotokan Karate-do: Belarus on the first place
Book Победы, добытые в боях

1998 was successful for the Belarusian karate-do kata women's team. Three Belarusians, Olga Vilkina, Tatyana Sinyavskaya and Svetlana Vilkina, won at the European Shotokan Championship.

The Belarusian Association of Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do (website: http://www.gojuryu.by) was established in 1992. Since 1993, the association is a member of the International Okinawan Goju-ryu Karate-do Federation ( IOGKF) and a member of the Europe Okinawa Goju-ryu Karate Federation since 1994.

During its existence, the association has released a number of champions. The first European champion in Goju-ryu karate in 1993 was Viktor Grinevich.

Tatyana Poznyak took the first place at the 1999 WKC World Championship.

Belarusian wrestlers successfully performed at the 2002 European Goju-ryu Karate Championship. Kirill Bankov and Vitaly Dyachkov took the first place.

In 2010, two Belarusians Grigory Fedotov and Andrei Grinevich took the third place at the World Goju-ryu Karate Championship (Cascais, Portugal).

Grigory Fedotov

Andrei Grinevich

In 1997, at the initiative of the Kanku Sports Club, all Belarusian clubs practicing Kyokushin karate were united into the Belarusian Kekushinkai Budo Karate Federation (website: http://budokan.by). The federation has prepared many champions: Dmitry Alekhnovich, Pavel Shpilkov, Mikhail Kolesnikov, Roman Gurinovich and others.

Dmitry Alekhnovich performing Yoko Tobi Geri, 1996
Photo album Наш путь

Victory is only the beginning of a new way: Olga Alekhnovich
Photo album Наш путь

In 2010, Olga Alekhnovich became the world champion in Kyokushin karate in the "Kata" section.

In 1999, the Belarusian Japanese Karate Association was established.

In January 2012, the Minsk Karate Federation was registered. This is the first organization in the history of national sports that aims to unite people and federations of the Republic of Belarus.

In November 2014, the Belarusian Shotokan Karate Federation was established (website: https://www.karate–shotokan.by).

Sources used in the project:


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  2. Вилькин, А. Я. Победы, добытые в боях / А. Вилькин ; Белорус. ком. молодеж. орг., Белорус. федерация шотокан каратэ-до. – Минск : Белпринт, 2010. – 51 с.
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