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The three most common ways to term Okinawan Martial Arts in the pugilistic (fist) styles are Karate, Karate-do and Karatejutsu.


The term Karate is most often used in the sense of the sport where the main focus is on competition. This is non-traditional and is based in a win/lose sport environment. Prior to 1930, this was considered unethical in Okinawan society, mainly due to the dangers of proper technique being performed. In America, this sport form has gained great popularity and is an excellent form of exercise and discipline. Unfortunately, it does not address the violence confronted within a street assault where no judge and rules are present :(


The term Karate-do usually refers to the do aspect or "way" which is more formatted to the spiritual aspect of the discipline. This is a higher form of awareness and prepares the student for an inner calm and peace that results from specific spiritual practices. Our dojo prefers to have the student choose his or her own path in their freedom of religion and to not impose religious beliefs on someone who has a different path. Unfortunately, many schools in the U.S. and Japan have used the open term Karate-do to inflict their own personal religious beliefs on their students. We, at our dojo, leave your beliefs up to you, but, for the purpose of balance in your life, hope you do choose something!


The term Karate-ryu (family) or Karatejutsu is the original term used to explain the blend of Okinawan "Te" (a type of throwing art) and "Kara" (empty) which came from the influx of Chinese Kempo into the Okinawan culture. The art of Te originated in Okinawa, but the Kempo arts were derived from the Shaolin Fist arts from mainland China. Prior to 1879, Martial Arts were reserved, on Okinawa, exclusively for members of the upper class, and even then few were willing to practice them.

Major Classifications

The major classifications of Okinawan Martial Arts are based on their location of origin and their historical background.

Styles based mostly in Chinese boxing

Some Styles based in Shorin, or Shaolin arts Styles based in Te or weapons
  • Honshinryu
  • Yamane-ryu
  • Uhuchikukobudo
  • Ryukyu kobudo
  • Matayoshi kobudo
  • Motoburyu (Shorinryu & Toide)
  • Bugeikan

The Differences between Japanese Fighting arts and Martial Arts of Okinawa

The two styles differ mostly in style and history. The sport aspects of Judo developed from a more violent art of jujutsu. The art of Aikijujutsu was a core beginning art with a very ancient history.

NOTE: The arts that are taught at the dojo's in Wisconsin can be referenced for class schedules by visiting our Class Calender page.

Strange and Mystical Powers

One of the most sensationalized aspects of Karate and the Martial Arts are some of the "strange" and "unbelievable" feats that are performed by some of its practitioners. Many of the so-called mysteries of martial arts are based on stories derived from misunderstandings of practical body control techniques. One of these techniques is called Ki control or Aiki Arts which is based in breath control. When trained properly, the practitioner is able to take full blows to the groin, throat, solar plexus, floating ribs and other parts of the body with no physical damage or bruising. These practices are often denounced as tricks; however, in over 20 years of demonstrations, the members of the Kijitsu Demo teams have never been knocked down or knocked out by anyone who has volunteered to take a whack at them. Professor Bergstrom holds a 5th degree (Master Instructor) license to teach this art.

Atemi Waza - the art of breaking inanimate objects

This art also draws attention to Karate. There are different levels of training and injuries are frequent unless taught properly. Although this method is taught at the YamaMizu Hombu Dojo (properly, of course:), the forms are not stressed or required.

The Human Punching Bag Question

This is a frequent worry of people beginning Martial Arts training, but never fear - physical contact in an agressive sense, at our dojo, is not usually allowed until you've trained for six months to a year. Health being a primary concern of our school's members there are a number of ways that a person can strengthen the body in addition to exercise.
Since the purpose of training is to promote wellbeing, we realize that it is important that the body becomes strong before risking injury. Since an injury takes time to heal, eliminating training time, then injuring you right away would be considered backward training (and probably not very nice).

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