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American Karate System


  • American Karate System

    American Karate System

    Essentially a blend of Japanese and Korean arts, this system was founded by Ernest Lieb. Upon returning from Korea where he was stationed as a marine in 1964, the aim was to found a martial art organisation that promoted brotherhood as opposed to rivalry.

    The art form has four coloured belts prior to gaining a black belt and students must be 18 year of age before they are allowed to test for the black belt. White suits are worn indicating the system is a tradition-orientated style. At tournaments, gradings and official functions, students at all levels of expertise, are expected to continue the tradition of wearing white. The highest rank given is the 10thdan, which was held by the founder.

    The Technical components which make up the system were adjusted to fit the American psyche and attitude and Lieb is often credited as the first to use the prefix ‘American’ when describing his oriental system. Interestingly, Lieb was born in Germany in 1940 and emigrated to America with his family in 1952. He took up American citizenship in 1959. Slight in stature, his early training in Judo was unsatisfactory because he felt that it was difficult for him to achieve any level of success against bigger opponents.

    When he started training in Karate before joining the Marines, he said that this was the first system he had found which enabled him, through hard work, dedication and perseverance, utilizing timing, speed and accuracy to be able to engage and defeat bigger opponents.
    Clearly his time spent in Korea heavily influenced the formation of the American Karate System and its ethos. His study under the tutorage of Mr Kim in Chi Do Kwan in Korea at the naval base, afforded him the opportunity to compete in many tournaments in which he was very successful.
    Employing a range of blocks, punches, kicks, throws, joint locks and breaking techniques, students strive to seek perfection and self enlightenment through dedication of physical and mental techniques.

    English terminology is used wherever possible and this is a further aid for western students to gain a greater understanding of the art. Tragically the founder Lieb was killed in a freak accident on September 22nd2006 whilst in Germany in a maglev train.

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    Author of this article Chris Crudelli is a Graduate of London University’s SOAS & Beijing Shi Fan University. He is also a Kung Fu & Taiji Master, Author & TV Host best known for his self-penned BBC TV series 'Mind Body Kick Ass Moves' broadcast in over 180 countries worldwide.
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