Karate & Ti:
Karate is a household word. The average person hears the word "karate" and thinks, "Oh KA-RHOTTY, that's fighting with kicks and chops." To the karate-ka, on the other hand, karate is an art of self-defense which evolved in Okinawa based on indigenous Okinawan self-defense methods blended with Chinese Kung-Fu. Modern styles of karate were said to have started in the late 1700's and early 1800's. Prior to the advent of karate, there was another art practiced in Okinawa. This was called Ti, pronounced TEE, Ti was mostly practices by the anji, (merchants, landowners, clergy and royalty), who lived primarily in the cities of Naha, Shuri and Tomari. From these places, Ti eventually evolved into Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te, meaning "the empty hand of Naha, Shuri and Tomari." These three major styles founded all Okinawan Karate styles practice today.

Before modern styles of karate, there was Ti. Perhaps the most important lesson taught in studying Ti is not the labels or comparisons between different styles and arts-- rather it is the understanding that Ti is a way of thinking, by practicing kata as it is taught to you, and finding out what the kata means to you in your life.

Empty-hand Kata:
All Okinawan karate is based on combinations of punches, blocks, kicks and throws, formed into dances called kata. Katas are the training lessons a student uses to learn self defense. It is only in the last 200 years that kata were taught in groups of kata to formal classes of students. Before this, one style of karate, or "Ti", consisted of one kata. This was usually passed on from one family member to another. In essence, a kata is a "coat of arms," in Okinawan cultural history. All kata reflect the locality it originated from. For example, wider stances were used on more flat terrain, smaller stances were used in places of limited space. Each step in a kata is a representation of a technique explained through "bunkai" (Boon-Kye), which literally means "meaning."

Kobudo is the use of weapons in performing kata. Like empty-handed kata, kobudo katas are also dances that tell a story and teach a lesson in self-defense. The "weapons" themselves are a mixture of Chinese martial weapons; the sai, timbe, & yari, as well as farming tools of Okinawa; the eku, bo, kama, tunfa, & nunchaku. I believe that kobudo kata were predominantly developed by women in Okinawa. All history points to the fact that women were the ones who stayed home, did the housework and tended the fields. They would have been the ones that would have seen it most necessary to improvise with these farming tools to develop and use techniques to defend themselves against unwanted visitors.

San Chin :
The most important part of karate is the kata San Chin. The reason that it is so important is that without San Chin there is no Karate. In China San Chin is pronounced Chi Kung, our version Means “Iron Shirt” Chi Kung. The words and spellings are different; however the internal martial art of Iron Shirt Chi Kung or San Chin is the same. They differ in their outward appearances however the results are the same. San Chin literally means "3 Chi" "San" is the number 3, and "chin" is how you say chi (or ki) in Hogan the traditional Okinawan language. It can also be translated as three battles. More...