The word karate is a combination of two kanji (Chinese characters): kara, meaning empty, and te, meaning hand; thus, karate means "empty hand."

Karate is a Japanese martial art whose physical aspects seek the development of defensive and counterattacking body movements. The themes of traditional karate training are fighting and self-defense, though its mental and moral aspects target the overall improvement of the individual. This is facilitated by the discipline and persistent effort required in training. If karate had to be described in only one sentence, then the most suitable one may arguably be "You never attack first in karate." This is a a maxim of Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the Okinawan who brought karate to Japan in 1922, and who is accepted as the father of modern karate.

Karate training is divided into three major areas: basics, forms , and sparring. Basic motion (Kihon) is the study of the fundamental techniques of the art. Forms (Kata) is a series of movements and techniques linked together by the physical/combative principles that the kata expresses, represented as a fixed sequence of moves against imagined opponents. The moves involved in a specific form 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.

In INDIA, Karate Association of India is the only National Federation for Karate Sports in India duly affiliated with World Karate Federation (WKF), Asian Karate Federation (AKF), Commonwealth Karate Federation (CKF) and South Asian Karate Do Federation (SAKF). KAI is also recognised by Govt. of India (Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports) and affiliated by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) . KAI has 34 State/Province Members all over India along with SSCB, Army, CRPF, ITBP. Assam Rifles and many Police Forces as a Corporate Members.