a method developed in Japan of defending oneself without the use of weapons by striking sensitive areas on an attacker's body with the hands, elbows, knees, or feet. Compare judo, jujitsu.
a sport based on this method of self-defense.

1950–55; < Japanese, equivalent to kara empty + te (earlier *tai) hand(s)

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World English Dictionary
karate (kəˈrɑːtɪ)
a.  a traditional Japanese system of unarmed combat, employing smashes, chops, kicks, etc, made with the hands, feet, elbows, or legs
 b.  (as modifier): a karate chop to the head
[Japanese, literally: empty hand, from kara empty + te hand]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1955, from Japanese, lit. "empty hand, bare hand," from kara "empty" + te "hand."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
But you understand that fingers are not used in boxing or karate.
For one thing, they all know karate and can break railroad ties with their bare
Few things in life offer more visceral proof of the power of physics than a
  karate chop.
The variety is astonishing: tap-dancing routines, karate demonstrations and
  music videos.
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