Karate is a martial art developed in the Ryukyu Islands in what is now Okinawa, Japan. It was developed from indigenous fighting methods called te (literally "hand"; Tii in Okinawan) and Chinese kenpo. Karate is a striking art using punching, kicking, knee and elbow strikes, and open-handed techniques such as knife-hands. Grappling, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point strikes are taught in some styles. A karate practitioner is called a karateka.
Karate was developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to its 19th century annexation by Japan. 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 ("Chinese hand") to ("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 its popularity and 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 2005, in the 117th 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.