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Karate or karate-dō is a martial art of Okinawan origin. Karate is a synthesis of indigenous Okinawan fighting methods and southern Chinese martial arts, possibly a version of Shaolinquan. It is primarily a striking art, featuring punching, kicking, knee/elbow strikes and open hand techniques; however, grappling, joint manipulations, locks, restraints, throws, and vital point striking are inherent in the finer points of the art. Karate is characterized by the use of the hips and stances to generate striking power, by the distinctive use of breathing (sharp, explosive exhalations) to focus power, and by the practice of prearranged forms (called kata). One who practices karate is sometimes referred to as a karate-ka (Japanese, "karate practitioner").
In general, karate training is divided into three major areas: basics (“kihon” in Japanese), forms ("kata" 型 in Japanese), and sparring ("kumite" 組手 in Japanese). Basic motion (Kihon) (基本) is the study of the fundamental techniques of the art. Kata means 'form' or 'pattern'. It is a series of movements and techniques linked together by the physical/combatative principles that the kata expresses, represented as a fixed sequence of moves against imagined opponents. The moves themselves may have multiple interpretations as self-defense techniques. Sparring may be constrained by many rules or it may be free sparring, and may be practiced both as sport and for self-defense training.
Many styles of karate also include specialized conditioning equipment, known in Japanese collectively as 'hojo undo.' Some of the more common devices are the makiwara, the chi-ishi (a kind of off center free weight), and nigiri game (large jars used for grip strength). Some styles also include instruction in kobudo, or traditional Okinawan weaponry. The two arts are not strictly linked, but they have followed a synergistic course of development.