Karate, the modern art meaning "the way of the empty hand" was an art comprised of grappling techniques. It included straightforward,precise punches and kicks administered from a strong stable, stance. Just like many other modern martial arts, karate included a variety of weapons, despite it's unarmed style, such as the bo (staff) and the sai (baton).
Karate takes its origins from the island of Okinawa. It was actually a combination of Chinese martial arts and previous martial arts of Okinawa, which were termed "te," and it was adapted by the Japanese with few changes.
Gichin Funakoshi, considered the father of modern karate, led the path of karate into the Samurai and Japanese martial arts. He first created the Shotokan karate style, and had many public exhibitions demonstrating karate.