Karate is predominantly a striking art, using punching, kicking, knee strikes, elbow strikes and open hand techniques such as knife-hands, spear-hands, and palm-heel strikes. Historically and in some modern styles grappling, throws, joint locks, restraints, and vital point strikes are also taught.
Karate began as a common fighting system known as Te (手, which is Japanese for "hand"). There were few formal styles of te, but rather many practitioners with their own methods: each area and its teachers had particular kata, techniques, and principles that distinguished their local version of te from the others. From these early styles originated many styles of modern Karate.
Some of the most notables include:
- Shorin-Ryu (小林流; "little forest way"): One of the oldest styles of Karate. "Shorin" is actually the Japanese pronunciation of "Shaolin" (小林). Shorin-Ryu is generally characterized by natural breathing, natural (narrow, high) stances, and circular, rather than direct movements. A peculiar feature in this system is how the student is taught to punch: there is not either a horizontal or vertical punch in Shorin-Ryu, punches are almost vertical, slightly canted to the inside, with the largest knuckle of the fore finger in vertical alignment with the second knuckle of the pinky finger. It is believed that this position is key in lining up the bones of the arm and creates a faster, more stable and powerful strike.
- Shotokan (松濤館; "pine-waves house"): As the most widely practiced style, Shotokan is considered a traditional and influential form of Karate. Shotokan is regarded as a dynamic martial art as it develops anaerobic, powerful techniques as well as developing speed. Initially strength and power are demonstrated instead of slower, more flowing motions. Those who progress to brown and black belt level develop a much more fluid style that incorporates grappling, throwing and some Aikido-like techniques. Was founded by Gichin Funakoshi: after years of study in Shorin-Ryu and Shorei-Ryu, Funakoshi created a simpler system that combined the ideals of both styles.
- Goju-Ryu (剛柔流; "hard-soft style"): This style features a combination of hard and soft techniques. This style incorporates both circular and linear movements into its curriculum, combining hard striking attacks such as kicks and close hand punches with softer open hand circular techniques for attacking, blocking, and controlling the opponent, including locks, grappling, takedowns and throws.
- Shito-Ryu (糸東流): A combination style, which attempts to unite the diverse roots of Karate. On one hand, it has the physical strength and long powerful stances of styles such as Shorin-Ryu and Shotokan; on the other hand, it also has the circular and eight-directional movements, breathing power, and hard and soft characteristics of styles such as Goju-Ryu. Shito-Ryu is extremely fast, but still can be artistic and powerful.
- Kyokushin (極真; "the ultimate truth"): A modern, fighting-sport oriented style also known as Full Contact Karate because of its emphasis on physical, full-force sparring fighting. Kyokushin is rooted in a philosophy of self-improvement, discipline and hard training.
- American Karate: A generic term referring to a hybridized martial art system originated from America that incorporates various aspects and techniques of many traditional forms of Karate, while not following the restricting philosophies of each respective style. American Karate, also known as Freestyle Karate, employs cross-training with more traditional martial art styles, focusing primarily on the "sporting aspects".
In the Tekken series
This style is a fictional Karate style that is used by members of the Mishima Family, as well as many other characters in the Tekken series. Despite Mishima Style Fighting Karate being a fictional martial art, its influences do originate from real martial arts.
Heihachi Mishima's fighting style
Heihachi's fighting style comes from classical Okinawan style of karate such as Goju-ryu and Shorin-ryu.
Kazuya Mishima's fighting style
Kazuya's fighting style is heavily based on Shotokan style of karate.
Jin Kazama/ Devil Jin's fighting style
From Tekken 4 and onwards, Jin Kazama's fighting style is simply listed as "Karate". However, it is safe to assume that his style is the Kyokushin style of karate while all of the physical attacks of Devil Jin derives from Shito-ryu. Jin's motion actor is Ryu Narushima (成嶋竜), a famous Kyokushin master. Furthermore, in the embu videos from Tekken 4  , he can be seen practicing Yantsu Kata  and Pinan Sono Yon Kata .
Lars Alexandersson's fighting style
Officially listed as "Karate" in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 , his fighting style looks like a flashy, faster and acrobatic approach on Karate that was actually based on Shorinji Kempo. Not much else is known at the moment, as Namco didn't gave any other detail.
Bob's Freestyle Karate
Bob was described as "a freestyle karate practitioner from the U.S." by Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada, and his fighting style well represents the American approach on sport-oriented Karate. His fighting style can also possibly be derived from Martial art-based acrobatic sports such as Tricking.
Bryan Fury's fighting style
Despite officially being deemed a kickboxer, many of Bryan's moves also show visible signs of karate techniques, namely Kyokushin.
- Jin Kazama - From Tekken 4 and onwards.
- Bryan Fury - (Applies some techniques)
- Mokujin - Through mimicry.
- Tetsujin - Through mimicry.
- Combot - Tekken 4 only; through mimicry.
- Kinjin - Through mimicry.
- Karate pratictioners in other fighting games include Makoto from the Street Fighter series, Johnny Cage from the Mortal Kombat series, Hitomi and Ein from the Dead or Alive series, and Jean Kujo from the Virtua Fighter series.
- Contary to popular beliefs, the fighting style practiced by Ryu (from the Street Fighter series) is not Shotokan. Capcom USA originally mistranslated Ryu's fighting style as "Shotokan" despite bearing little resemblance to the real-life discipline. His fighting style is actually a fictional nameless martial art style rooted in Ansatsuken (暗殺拳, "Assassination Fist"). Because of the mistranslation, Ryu, Ken and Akuma (and other fighting game "Ryu-like" characters who use similar styles) are still called "shoto-clones" or "shotos" by fans.
- ^ https://twitter.com/Harada_TEKKEN/status/362838926160969729
- ^ http://www.tekken-official.jp/tag2/chara/lars.html
- Karate at Wikipedia.