The Okinawan Karate Club of Atlanta teaches Okinawan Shōrin-ryū karatedō and Shūdōkan karatedō, as well as Toei Jūjutsu and kubudō (weapons). Okinawan karate is a blend of the indigenous martial arts of Ryukyu Islands (including what is now Okinawa, Japan) and Chinese martial arts that were introduced through trade and cultural relationships. The term "karate" originally meant "Chinese hand" or "Tang hand"; the characters were later changed to mean "empty hand" although the pronounciation remained the same. A series of weapons bans may have given further motivation to the development of karate as a system of unarmed combat (as well as the adaptation of farming implements into weapons).

Karate's roots date back millenia, but it's modern synthesis began in the 18th century when a Chinese diplomat, Kūsankū, arrived in the Ryukyu Islands and began teaching martial arts. His disciples continued to teach and evolve the art. Various styles of karate developed during the same period through practitioners who studied in China and later brought the arts they learned back home to different areas of Okinawa (notably the villages of Shuri, Tomari, and Naha). The prevalence of karate increased when it was introduced into Okinawa's school system. It spread further after it was introduced to Japan's main islands.