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#140905 - 05/09/05 12:39 PM Defining Karate
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
With a new forum dedicated to karate, it might be best to first investigate what karate is.

The term karate originally arose to cover a rather specific group of Okinawan teaching practices.

Those practices were extended when a very limited version of them where taught in the Okinawan school systems.

Then another series of variations began when karate practices were exported to Japan beginning in the 1920ís. In short order styles were created, uniforms and rank adopted, and instructors with little traditional karate training experience creating systems, sometimes under Okinawan supervision and sometimes not, sometimes with indigenous Japanese arts thrown in. In many senses those karate practices were very different from the Okinawan origins.

Time passed, WWII intervened destroying many of the seniors in karate, and after the war new standards and practices entered both the Okinawan and Japanese strains.

Additionally those arts were taught to the occupying forces of Japan and Okinawa and a new migration took place. Further divergence from original intent, more other practices being adopted and shuffled in, etc.

Till karate becomes a generic name that may have almost nothing to do with the variations off of original practices.

If one had to pick a generic description of what Karate ought to describe, the closest model might be, systems of training that include the study and practice of kata as their central training tool. Likewise a system of instruction that is designed to be covered in about two decades of training (give or take a decade or two) before one truly has a basic grasp of what the system involved has to offer.

Other valuable systems of martial study, traditional and non-traditional do exist, but if they donít fit the above definition, there is question whether they are truly describing karate.

Personally I donít like the every tissue is Kleenex definitions that are often given as karate.

Based on my suggested version, much that uses the karate label does not fit a reasonable definition and something else should be applied.

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

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#140906 - 05/09/05 02:13 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Victor Smith]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
Nicely put, Victor.
I'd like to add: Like any other field of study and practice, there must be purpose and intent.
I find it hard to define Karate without mentioning 'Self-Defense' and 'Self-Improvement'.

Purpose and intent itself, has lineage.

I believe, and correct me if I'm off-base, that the intent of Karate, was to provide a Way (path) for a practioner to aquire a method of self-defence thru a process of incorporating into character:
* self-realization (awareness of mind),
* strengthening of body and ever-improving technique,
* development of spirit (via respect,morals and determination).

EVERYTHING has a predecessor and successor. Each successor has the shadow of it's former self.

If Karate's purpose is 'Self-Defense' thru character development,
then Karate's predecessor would have been
"Self-Preservation" thru tried and tested life or death combat.

Using popularity as a guidline, it seems Karate's successor will be for Sport...

from
"Self-Preservation" thru combat.
to
"Self-Defense" thru character.
to
"Self-Betterment" thru sport.

I don't think of the past, original and present form of Karate as separate and distinct...they overlap and fade into each other depending on the person, their experiences and their training.

That's just the way I see Karate...It's only one opinion.
-Ed

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#140907 - 05/10/05 06:36 AM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Kintama]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
Those are good definitions of karate that everyone should consider when they call theirself training in karate. Good job!
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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#140908 - 05/10/05 09:08 AM Re: Defining Karate [Re: SANCHIN31]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Well, lets add to the definition by bringing the "do" suffix into it. Karate is a way of life. It's about dedicating yourself to improvement every day of your life. It's about higher ideals and principles. It ceases to be Karate when you train to learn how to "kick butt".

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#140909 - 05/10/05 05:03 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Sanchin Offline
Member

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 174
Quote:

Well, lets add to the definition by bringing the "do" suffix into it. Karate is a way of life. It's about dedicating yourself to improvement every day of your life. It's about higher ideals and principles. It ceases to be Karate when you train to learn how to "kick butt".




Karate is still karate if you train to kick butt, karate is a very real and brutal method of kicking butt.
_________________________
"Everything is already, and always will be given" - Our New Pope. B

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#140910 - 05/10/05 09:17 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Sanchin]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
From my perspective its not about 'Do' or about kicking butt.

The use of the Japanese concept of Do applies there is Jutsu, a duality that was not the original way. The development of te into karate was non-verbal. Sure it bettered ones life and sure the techniques could break an attacker, but the original appears to be mostly non-verbal, without any wrap around vocabulary.

Dan Smith of the Seibukan has written that the original teachings didn't even include a techincal term for punch or block, just a general term for 'put the hand here', as you were shown.

What karate is, is not simply defined as one thing or another. Just as how it is taught really depends on the demands of the time and the place it is being taught.

The most problemetical thing about using simple descriptive terms for what karate is, is the fact those terms make you loose sight of the entire picture.

I really think its a shame that so many Japanese concept were adopted on Okinawa, a gradual effect of Japan controlling the education system for 100 years.

The duality in japan of kenjutsu becoming kendo is quiant for those that really worry about swords.

But karate is simpler and vaster than the terms.

The only real binding tradition I hold to is 1)kata and 2)time to really study.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#140911 - 05/10/05 10:58 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Victor Smith]
BuDoc Offline
The doctor will see you now

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1067
Loc: USA and Abroad
Once again Mr. Smith, you have eloquently put to type thoughts that I could never convey.

There are some really thoughtful replies here on a subject that is nearly impossible to define.

Thank you all.

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_________________________
Medical Advisor for the Somolian National Sumo Team

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#140912 - 05/10/05 11:25 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Sanchin]
Camilo_kun Offline
Newbie

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Chile
Quote:

Karate is still karate if you train to kick butt, karate is a very real and brutal method of kicking butt.



Man!!! no, no!!
I'm a begginer of karate budo shotokai, and all that i learn is that karate is for my spirit, mint and soul. I hope never have to use karate for fight...
All you people that use karate for fight, for kick ass and stuff are really practicing a "american influenced karate" (in other words, not the real karate). In shotokai they teach us like Master Egami, the karate is for auto knowledge and confidence.
I think that Budo Shotokai (and shotokan) are the real Japanese Karate. The real essence of karate is not for "kick ass" you know?
_________________________
I speak spanish, sorry my bad spelling :P

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#140913 - 05/10/05 11:51 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Camilo_kun]
BuDoc Offline
The doctor will see you now

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1067
Loc: USA and Abroad
Camilo, you are probably going to get alot of responses to this. Here is mine, for what it's worth.

"Real" karate as developed on Okinawa was designed to quickly and effectively disable/destroy your opponent. There was no concern about uplifting your spirit or becoming a better person.

Becoming a better person, physical fitness, honing the spirit, self confidence, etc. are all very nice side-effects.

Karate today has evolved greatly. It is many things to many people. It has as many different philosophical and physical applications as there are practioners. When you boil it down and distil it, in it's simplest form it begs the question, can you defeat your opponent?

Achieving peace,tranquility,harmony while exercising the mind and soul, can be accomplished through a multitude of physical tasks. Why then do we learn to fight? Why not peace and harmony and tranquility through tree climbing?

Good luck in your Shotokan/Shotokai training. I think you will find that the Japanification of Karate will help you find the things you are looking for. However I am certain that most of the "real" karate has been removed.

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_________________________
Medical Advisor for the Somolian National Sumo Team

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#140914 - 05/11/05 12:08 AM Re: Defining Karate [Re: BuDoc]
Camilo_kun Offline
Newbie

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 19
Loc: Chile
Yes you are right, about karate- do . I practice karate- budo , total different. The "bu" is like a magical word
_________________________
I speak spanish, sorry my bad spelling :P

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