A Short Karate History in Estonia 

The beginning of Karate in Estonia can be dated back to 1969. The 1970s were a complicated time for practising karate, because karate was declared as an unwanted sport. Karate was legally accepted only in 1979.

The first high time of Estonian karate was the period from 1979 to 1983. After legalizing karate Estonia was one of the former Soviet Union’s karate centres and many medals from all-country competitions were won at that time. Tallinn was also one of those cities where all-country competitions were held in 1979.

When karate was banned again in 1983, the big break began and the practitioners hid themselves underground. In 1989, when karate as allowed again, it took several years before the split Estonian karate was united under the same roof again.
Estonian Karate Federation (EKF) was founded on February 15th 1992. It is a member of European Karate Federation since May 6th 1993. 1993 was also the first year Estonia’s karatekas were participating in European Championships in Prague. At the same time first steps were taken towards getting membership in the World Karate Federation – WKF, and a temporary status was received in 1992. Full membership was received on December 7th 1994. The first Estonians to participate in World Championships were Aleksandr Zõkov and Marko Luhamaa in 1996 in South African Republic in Sun City.

Currently the Federation includes 22 clubs or style organizations. The styles practised in Estonia are: Shotokan, Wadoryu, Shitoryu, Jyoshinmon Shorin Ryu, Shukokai and Kyokushinkai.

What is Karate?

Karate is one of the most widely practiced martial art forms in the world. Martial arts rely on acute physical coordination and mental focus. They were developed in Asia (primarily India, China and Japan) over the course of several thousands of years. In all this time, there have been countless martial arts variations, and there are hundreds of disciplines practiced today. (Check out this site for more information on martial arts history.)

Modern karate developed out of martial arts forms practiced in Okinawa, an island that is now part of Japan. For hundreds of years, Okinawan martial arts experts honed a variety of combat styles, in part due to the political situation in the area. From time to time, the ruling authorities would ban peasants from possessing any weapons, leaving them with only their own bodies and household items to protect themselves. (This played a part in the development of martial arts elsewhere in Asia as well.)

A man named Funakoshi Gichin is credited with carrying the karate form beyond its geographical roots. In the early 20th century, he brought together elements from many Okinawan fighting styles and introduced the combat technique to mainland Japan and, eventually, the rest of the world.

Karatekas generally credit the creation of modern karate to Funakoshi Gichin’s son, Funakoshi Yoshitaka. While his father practiced full contact karate, where fighters delivered unchecked blows, Yoshitaka believed in a more peaceful application of the fighting principles. In this form, properly called karate-do, or “karate way,” karate is seen as an all encompassing approach to life, rather than only a system for combat. Karatekas curb their punches, concentrating mainly on physical, spiritual and mental development rather than competition.

The word karate is Japanese for “open hand” (kara means open and te means hand). Te signifies that your main weapon is your body. Instead of an arsenal of swords or guns, the karateka cultivates a personal arsenal of punches, kicks and deflection techniques. Kara relates to the psychology of karate. Karatekas are open to the world around them, making them better equipped to handle any attack.