My other brother-in-law was a karate expert, then joined the army. The first time he saluted, he killed himself.  

HENNY YOUNGMAN (1906-1998)


Becoming a Dan

According to the President of the English Karate Federation, regardless of how good you are (and how fast you fly through the early colours) the top 'dans' (subsections of the black belt) take years to attain. You can't have the 2nd dan until you've held the first for 2 years and you can't hold the 3rd until you've had the 2nd for 3 years, etc. Black belt, 10th dan, is the highest level; you could achieve a black belt in 5 years, but it would take 54 years to get through all the black belt levels to 10th dan. Consequently, very few people outside of Japan hold the rank of 10th dan (about 10 people).

The system is complicated by the fact that some associations only award up to a certain grade and others have a hierarchy, so there can only be one very senior grade, meaning that an individual may spend decades without gaining a higher grade. A grade may also indicate seniority, without necessarily being a measure of skill or breadth of knowledge.
The dan system was originally used in the board game Go and was transferred to martial arts in the 19th century.


I would have been a black belt in Karate much sooner, but the store was sold out of Sharpie markers.

Killer whales can kill sharks by karate chopping them with their tails.

When Margaret Thatcher visited Japan in 1979 she was offered 20 karate ladies as bodyguards.

Karate Chops

The trick of breaking stacks of wood or bricks by using karate is sometimes ascribed to a mystical deployment of the chi-force, but it’s actually a combination of physics and trickery, as follows:

1)    Brittle materials such as clay bricks or concrete slabs are quite susceptible to sharp blows.

2)    Stacks of bricks or planks are more easily broken if you separate them with pencils between each layer, so that the hand breaks one layer and continues its momentum to the next.

3)    Planks are also more breakable if cut so that the grain runs across, rather than lengthwise.

4)    You have to strike fast, and concentrate the blow into as small an area as possible (i.e. hit with the edge of the hand, not the flat). Minimising the area and the time of contact whilst maximising pressure (by putting your weight behind the blow) maximises the force applied to the point of impact.

Not Strictly Japanese

Karate originated in Okinawa, which didn’t belong to Japan until the 1870s. It is a relatively new martial art for Japan, only being officially recognised by the Japanese Martial Arts Committee in December 1933. It has now become synonymous with the country, of course. 
Some say that karate experts, or karateka, have to register themselves (or their body parts) as deadly weapons. This is a myth that originates from the world of boxing. In the early days of prizefighting, local police were often invited to press conferences so that fighters could be publicly 'registered' as deadly weapons. This was simply a publicity stunt.

Karate is Japanese for ‘empty hand’.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, alcohol is prohibited in karate competitions.


Man who catch fly with chopstick capable of anything.

The place where Karate training is carried out is called the 'dojo' which means 'the place of the way'.

The loud yell made during explosive techniques is called a 'kiai'  which is Japanese for 'unification of will'.