What are the main differences between Ashihara Karate and other traditional karate styles and martial arts?

Founded in the 1980s, Ashihara Karate is a modern / contemporary karate system that places emphasis on practical self-defence and the cultivation of holistic wellness. As such, training focuses on fostering effective self-defence skills that is based on scientific logic and rational strategies. Significant differences can be seen in the following aspects:

Postures & Execution of Techniques

Most notably, Ashihara Karate generally adopts a narrow, stand-up fighting posture called the "baseball batting stance". Compared to the stances often seen in traditional karate, this stance / posture bear closer resemblance to modern kick-boxing. From here, techniques are executed with an emphasis on being relaxed, natural and fluid, as opposed to being rigid and regimental.


Practicality is emphasized in Ashihara Karate, hence techniques often involves dynamic body movements, positioning and striking to vital areas. This is done instead of adopting a head-on strategy that places importance on brute strength or sheer speed. Such a strategy is often referred to as sabaki.


This can be split into 2 categories- mentality for real-life self-defence and mentality for training.

For real-life self-defence applications, Ashihara Karate techniques focuses on simple and straightforward techniques, aimed at quickly neutralizing the opponent. Such techniques and applications are codified in our forms or kata, 

When training, we aim to replicate the realism of actual combat as close as possible, but in a manner that is safe. Students learn to build confidence giving and receiving strikes, being grappled and thrown without getting injured. A method used to achieve this is called "fight control", where students engage each other in a way that resembles playing; they outmanoeuvre each other using learned techniques, rather than blindly bashing away. This way, the stronger student further refines his / her skills, while allow the weaker one to reflect upon his / her mistakes and try harder.

Compared to training where knocking-out (K.O) the partner is emphasized, fight control ensures that students learn practical techniques while  continuously improving through having fun and staying away from unnecessary injuries.

Is Ashihara Karate a sport?

Yes and No.

Sport: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. ~Oxford Dictionary definition

Ashihara Karate can be practised as a sport, like how it is being conducted in some schools overseas. This is where students train and take part in various tournaments with the aim of winning a medal or prize money.

At Black Tiger Ashihara Karate however, we practice Ashihara Karate as a martial art- to develop combative, self-defence abilities, while cultivating the body, mind and spirit. Training is therefore geared towards this aim and not according to the boundaries presented in tournament rule books.

Do our students take part in tournaments?

Yes, some of them do.

But since regular classes are not designed for competition-styled karate, they take part in separate preparatory sessions.

Progression One's progress through the various levels of ability and understanding of karate is measured by means of periodic grading. The rewards of these gradings are many and are symbolised by the presentation of a coloured belt. At first, only white, brown and black belts were used. There were many grades among these though and so other colours were later added to differentiate amongst them.

Each grading should give a sense of accomplishment, the student recognising it as the next step along the journey of the martial arts. Be happy with your progress, no matter what level you are at, but do not be satisfied with your capabilities and settle at any given grade.

The coloured belts are awarded to students in recognition of training efforts and encourage the students to continue such endeavours in the future. Grading also help to establish seniority, the important Senpai/Kohai relationship, which in turn allows for the smooth running of functions and activities of the dojo

The dojo is the place for the practice of Karate do. Dojo literally means "training" or "learning" place, Do means way and Jo means place. It is a place for correcting oneself in mind, body and spirit. One should always observe a correct attitude. 
In the dojo, there is a very strict, formalised etiquette, covering how to greet people, how to enter and leave the dojo, how to fix your uniform while on the floor, and how to tie your belt. These little formalities should be scrupulously observed by all students, not just by new students. 
Dogi (Karate Suit).
A karategi is somewhat similar to a judogi as it shares a common origin; however, the material and cut of the uniform is generally much lighter and looser fitting. The heaviest of Karategi are only 0.45 kg (16 oz) compared to some judogi at 0.99 kg (35 oz). Because of the nature of Karate training which emphasizes striking, kicking and a more limited range of standing throws compared to Judo the karategi has evolved in a manner that maximizes mobility and speed without the extremely coarse and strong fabric required for grappling and throwing found in Judo. They are made from smooth cotton which may be brushed or ribbed for unrestricted movement and added comfort. Reinforced stitching is common, as to compensate for the stresses put on the gi. 
Bowing, (Rei)
Is external manifestation of respect. It connotes appreciation and courtesy and in no way is associated with an attitude of subservience. Instructors bow to Juniors as well as Students to Instructors, and Seniors bow to Juniors as well as Juniors to Seniors. Respect and appreciation flows both ways.OSU
OSU is the one word that you’ll hear the most in a knockdown karate dojo or at a  tournament.  When you enter or leave the dojo, you bow and say “Osu”.  When you greet a fellow  karateka, you say “Osu” instead of “hello”.  When you respond to an instruction or question in class, you say “Osu” instead of “yes” or “I understand”. When practising jiyu kumite (free fighting) in class and your opponent lands a good, hard technique, you say “Osu” to acknowledge your opponent’s skill.  As a measure of respect, knockdown fighters at a tournament bow and say “Osu” to the front, to the referee and to each other, before and after the fight.

Osu is used in many situations and seems to mean a lot of things.  But what does it really mean? The word Osu comes from oshi shinobu, which means “to persevere whilst being pushed”.  It implies a willingness to push oneself to the limits of endurance, to persevere under any kind of pressure. It means patience, determination and perseverance.

Every time we say “Osu”, we remind ourselves of this. Karate training is very demanding.  You push yourself until you think you’ve reached your limit.  First your body wants to stop, but your mind keeps pushing you.  Then your mind wants to stop, but your spirit keeps you going.  You endure the pain.  You persevere.  That is Osu. This strength of character develops in hard training and is known as osu no seishin (the spirit of Osu).  Ashihara karate is not learned overnight.  It takes years to properly learn the fundamentals.  The basic techniques are performed thousands of times (ren ma – “always polishing”) until they are done by reflex or instinct, without conscious thought (mushin – “no mind”).  It’s easy to get frustrated by doing the same thing over and over again, especially when progress seems to be slow.  To overcome that frustration and continue training takes patience and determination.  That is Osu.

Kata is sequences of movements for offence and defence applied against the simultaneous attack of more than one opponent. Simply put, Kata's are various techniques and combinations which have been arranged in a series to help the students learn them. The movements are rationally and systematically combined. In this way, students can, even on their own, master the art of parrying. 

There are five Kata types: Beginner's (Shoshinsha), Basic (Kihon), Throwing (Nage), Sparring (Kumite) and Real Fight (Jissen). 

The practise of Kata is similar to shadow boxing in that when it is practised solo, it is performed against imaginary opponents. However where it differs is that each kata is a series of fundamental movements carried out according to a pattern which makes up a fixed routine. They represent both a compilation of fight controls, as well as a model for combinations. 

In Ashihara Karate it is referred to as controlled technique Kata. Controlled technique kata has been devised to help explain the idea behind Ashihara Karate Sabaki techniques. The Kata prepares one for real fight situations and are unique to Ashihara Karate.



Black Tiger Martial Arts has had the opportunity to help countless students acquire foundational skills, develop new techniques and confidently move forward in their learning journey. Japanese Kickboxing is born from Ashihara Karate with influence from Muay Thai Boxing. This style is very popular and effective using hands, feet, elbows and knees. We also love our low kicks and upto full contact sparring. We have several Fighters who compete in Local, National and International tournaments as well as several Champions. Competing isn't compulsory and with the best Professional Martial Arts School to support students from all backgrounds and levels that's why whether you want to Kickbox for fitness or self defence or competing. Black Tiger Martial Arts will help you get there. 



Black Tiger Martial Arts has had the opportunity to provide an exclusive opportunity to learn and practice Cheng Man Ch'ing 37 form as well as the Yang 32 sword form. Whether you want to have gentle exercise to keep you moving or wanting to acquire foundational skills, develop new techniques Black Tiger Martial Arts is the best Professional Martial Arts School in the South Manchester area, we provide a wide range of classes to support students from all backgrounds and levels.
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Two Japanese word elements are commonly found in the names of most Japanese martial arts: do and jutsu.  Jutsu simply refers to a collection of techniques, methods, skills or technical applications in a practical or scientific sense.  Do, on the other hand, is more philosophical, referring to a “way” or “path” to be followed as a lifestyle. In Zen Buddhism (a major influence on the development of martial arts in Japan), a do or tao is a religiously oriented way of life which is practiced for its own sake and which brings about self-knowledge and spiritual enlightenment.  In secular life the term refers to any art which is practiced to develop both technical proficiency and spiritual maturity, harmonizing body and mind. Consequently, when Gichin Funakoshi introduced karate-do (rather than karate-jutsu) to Japan, he introduced much more than an Okinawan fighting style, claiming also a spiritual and philosophical foundation for karate training.  As a do, karate was transformed from a fighting system into a Way which could rightfully claim a place in traditional Japanese martial culture. Other examples of this dichotomy include budo (“the martial way,” or, more literally, “the way of ending conflict”) vs. bujutsu (“military science”), kendo vs. kenjutsu (ken = “sword”), and jujutsu and aikijutsu (dangerous samurai grappling arts) vs. judo and aikido; judo is a safer-to-practice version of jujutsu developed primarily for purposes of sport and personal development, and aikido is a kinder, more humane version of aikijutsu with a strong mystical and philosophical foundation. Another Japanese do is bushido, bushi meaning “warrior.”  The Way of the warrior was the concept most intimately tied to the warrior culture of Japan, a rigorous standard of behavior and thought demanded of all samurai, and designed to produce principled citizens as well as effective soldiers.  In this early form of do the martial arts were not yet viewed as vehicles for self-development and enlightenment, but were nevertheless expected to constitute a total lifestyle and way of thinking beyond simple combat technique. At the KoSho karate school the Dojo Code gives a first indication of the responsible attitudes which students are expected to cultivate, if they haven’t already.  Philosophical concepts are rarely discussed overtly in class, but psychological effects of the training tend to emerge anyway.  Especially with children and young people, the improvements in concentration, perseverance, self-confidence, self-esteem, responsibility, achievement, sociability and level-headedness are often pronounced.  And even a kind of spiritual maturity sets in, involving reduced hostility and a feeling of being at peace with the world.  Such subtle changes in attitude do place students irrevocably on a new and better “path” in life, as they advance in the arts of karate-do and kobudo.  

Reference WINGATE, C. (1993)  Exploring our roots; historical and cultural foundations of the ideology of karate-do.  
Journal of Asian Martial 2 (3), 11-35.

©Wendell E. Wilson (2010) (email: minrecord@comcast.net) from Essays on the Martial Arts Home: http://www.mineralogicalrecord.com/wilson/karate.asp 



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