Karate – ‘The way of the empty hand’


When I was recently asked to design a logo for my karate club, I thought,

‘Great. I’m going to have a bit of fun with this’.

I had all sorts of exciting initial thoughts – kicks, punches, tigers, the
works. You know, the dramatic stuff. But then when I started my research,
what did I find? Kicks, punches, and tigers, – just about everywhere.

Of course I thought, ‘Well it doesn’t matter.
I’ll just design a kick 
or punch icon that’s better than anyone else’s.’

But that idea irritated me.
This might be the only chance I get to design a logo for a karate club.
Was I just going to regurgitate a newer version of existing iconography?
The task was turning out to be a bit harder than I expected.
How can you be different when all conceivable options are already in use?

Frustration sets in

Well, hang on a minute. Were all possible options really used up?
I thought again. Really hard this time. Mentally, I ran went through every
move or technique I’ve learnt over the past three years at the dojo,
trying to find the missing link. The one move or stance that most clubs
and their logo designers had overlooked. As I wrung my hands in frustration,
I looked down at them. And then it came to me…
The ‘knife hand‘ or ‘shuto‘ in karate.


The knife hand

The karate ‘knife hand’ is not a minor technique. It’s a major one.
And very effective and dangerous if applied with the right speed and
powerto certain vulnerable parts of the body. It also forms the basis of all
defensive moves in the art. The correct position of the fingers is drilled
into us practitioners constantly. And naturally, our speed and power
is never good enough to satisfy the demands of the strictest Sensei’s.

I knew my ‘knife hand’ logo was going to be unique, at least locally.
So I was intrigued to know if it was being used anywhere else.
I searched and searched exhaustively. But no matter how much
I looked, I just couldn’t find anything like it anywhere in the entire
of karate logos.

First things last. Just this once.

It was only after designing the logo that I bothered to do something
I really should have done at the very beginning. And in truth, it was
only after a club mate mentioned it on seeing a sneak preview…
I looked up the meaning of the word ‘Karate’.

Yes. Not having done that first is really bad. Not something I would
normally have overlooked. Luckily in this case, however, the pieces
fell nicely into place. Because as it turns out, the meaning of ‘karate’ is:
the way of the empty hand‘.

Newbridge-SKC_New-Logo_Dec5_20155 Newbridge-SKC_New-Logo_Dec5_20157

So it all turned out well in the end. I’m happy. The club is happy.

And unless I’m proved otherwise – and please do try
Newbridge could very possibly be the first Karate club in the world
to use the ‘knife hand’ as a logo.