American Black Belt Academy offers instruction in American Karate, American Tae Kwon Do, Kardio Kickbox and Kickboxing. Many times we're asked, "What is American Karate, and what is the difference?".
The term "karate" comes from two Japanese characters that mean "empty hand." It has come to mean a style of weaponless self-defense that originated in Okinawa in the early 1600's, though its precursors can be traced back from there for several hundred years. As with most of the traditional martial arts, it was highly regimental, and there was great emphasis on style identity.
American karate, when compared to the traditional style, is a very young art. Karate was virtually non-existent in the U. S. until the mid-1950's. It was initially introduced on the West Coast, generally by returning servicemen who had been stationed in Asia. These men brought a wide variety of styles back home with them. As is typical with most things, Americans have accepted what has been given to them and tried to improve it. They have taken techniques from all styles and incorporated them into a single, recognizable style that is purely American. This style is a systematic method of punching and kicking which maintains a flavor of Oriental mystique, but is reconstructed to reflect the open-minded philosophy of American practitioners. It emphasizes realism, combat efficiency and contact training. Its practitioners believe that freedom of expression and efficiency in the combat arena are more important than ritualized techniques that are traceable to an Asian ancestor style. And it must be working, because according to Joe Corley, executive vice president of the Professional Karate Association, "the traditional styles are starting to recognize us because American styles win all the tournaments."
The American karate philosophy was first popularized in the 1960's by stars such as Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis and Allen Steen. Lee stressed abandoning the traditional methods (which he referred to as "the classical mess") and instituted a more contemporary training method. This method included boxing and judo techniques, which he felt were more functional in self-defense than the classical techniques. He also stressed conditioning, and placed more emphasis on sparring, which he considered a more realistic method of practicing self-defense than was the make-believe battles of traditional point fighting and kata. Joe Lewis, the original Kickboxing heavyweight champion, also promoted the inclusion of boxing and other contemporary training methods to the martial arts. After the death of Bruce Lee, Mr. Lewis continued to promote American karate by starring in a number of feature films, further establishing a role model for American practitioners.
Few people have contributed more to American karate than Allen Steen. During his competitive career he won over 30 titles, and has defeated Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris and Tony Tulleners all in one day. As an instructor, he has trained thousands of students, including J. Pat Burleson, who was the first star of the sport and is known as the grandfather of open tournament fighting in America.
Continuing in this lineage is Mr. Larry Ritchie, head instructor of American Black Belt Academy (ABBA). Mr. Ritchie was a student of Pat Burleson, and has maintained the tradition of excellence. Mr. Ritchie has been in the martial arts since the 1960's, and has competed in and won many tournaments. He used the martial arts in practical situations during his tenure as owner of a security and bodyguard service. He has also trained many nationally ranked competitors. American karate, as taught at ABBA, incorporates proven techniques with a rigorous and disciplined approach to training.
Wanda Reves, ABBA 3rd Dan
Call 281-859-9566 to schedule an appointment for information about getting your family started in martial arts training or our Kardio Kickbox program. We have a range of special Family Programs, flexible class schedules and convenient payment plans.
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