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#140925 - 05/11/05 04:43 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: butterfly]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

You might want to ponder a different answer.
Bishop reports that the groups on Okinawa which teach Te(Ti) as opposed to karate, and have no kata tradition whatever (in the sense of Okinawan style kata), have mostly adopted to teach karate kata, but have made no attempt to rename their teaching as karate.

Seems to suggest the name should not be changed just for popularity.
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#140926 - 05/11/05 11:32 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Victor Smith]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
This, then, can be looked at from another perspective, using your analogy, and said that not all karate that does not emphasize kata can still consider itself karate.

By this I mean, if a choice of using kata as an academic source is not necessarily a constituent of calling itself karate, then what are the characteristics of karate, despite the title anyone gives it? Even its own members?

If others use kata as practice but do not consider themselves karate, does that still mean that those who do not emphasize kata but still consider themselves karate are any less worthy of that title?

In any case, this is just a gentle question coming from someone who lacks the finesse to decipher bunkai and who practices other kata that leave very little implied. Perhaps I was never given the chance to seek the spectactular in kata...and at my age wouldn't do so now.

Warmest and humblest regards,

#140927 - 05/11/05 11:53 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: butterfly]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

The practice of kata from its Okinawan origins isn't really arbitrary, and from the karate perspective just practicing the techniques is loosing a great part of the path.

IMVHO the central facet of kata has nothing to do with application, which is just a way to take anything and make it work anytime.

Rather kata practice is to develop advanced body mechanics and energy release, and then use those advancing studies in the application mechanics.

I don't suggest the Okinawan approach (which is about the only true parallel to many of the Chinese arts that I truly see) is the only answer.

It's just that an instructor can patiently share a signature movement style, craft the student to higher and higher levels of technique, and then work to move that understanding to the applicaions.

I've seen many ways, but personally the path if kata integtated with the whole range of answers is where I see karate residing.

And when you begin to analyze kata technique potential, from macro to micro to fractal analysis of the technique potential, there really is little need to go outside.

For example almost the entire basic aikido curricula is present in one kata, Chinto, not to suggest it's not present in the rest either.

Or effective defense against today's favorite, the shoot, simply learning how to apply the strike from Seisan to sheer the ridge of knuckles into the eye orbit and upper sinus cavities of someone trying the shoot is one of many effective answers.

The reason the path of kata is so often misunderstood and changed is people weren't willing to learn the system in depth, so they go to answer 'B'.

Of course as I define karate the path I've described is hardly universal, but I've found it within many Okinawan disciplines. For those that look at things differently, fine, retention of kata as a tool, if nothing else, still binds the traditions together.

victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#140928 - 05/12/05 12:21 AM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Victor Smith]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
As preface, I hope you won't take anything I say, or have said, as irritatingly contentious, this is not my intent.

And I understand that one shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater, yet I do not believe one should hold to tradition simply because this is the way it has always been done.

There are no 100% answers and we all are subject to our own experience. When I look at the stars I see a myriad of pictures, whether others see these things or not is not my concern. Nor can I ordain that everyone looking at the stars see anything at all but bright spots in a night sky. But when others say things are apparent in kata and have produced defensive techniques that may or may not have been intended by the founders of that kata....gun disarms for instance (no guns, but yes there were knives, several hundered years ago). Then, I believe, that movement, an open mind and the influence of their training led them to this "bunkai." If kata was a part of it, great! But if it was not, and other training led them to the same point, also great!

I can only judge from the outside what is karate. And that means terminology, a lineage (no matter how far stretched), and a similarity of movement and technique. This is despite kata. If I saw two individuals sparring and one was a kungfu player and another a karate man...I think I could tell the difference from the bag of tricks both would reach into. There may be overlap, but there is still distinction. This would be true of any other individuals sparring from different traditions.

The exception might be the more modern karate players that have gone to kickboxing and kickboxers coming from MT. There is a merger in process now about technical background. Some would call this evolution, others would call it something much worse. But whatever it is, it is occuring now in our modern world.

However, if you trace back technique, it will either be karate or it won't.



#140929 - 05/12/05 12:17 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Victor Smith]
nenipp Offline

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
Victor Smith,

thank you for your reply!
I see where you are coming from and respect your opinion of course, but for my own part cannot feel that it matters much.

#140930 - 05/12/05 02:36 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: nenipp]
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA
I agree wholeheartedly with Victor's comments and understand what Butterfly is trying to say. You don't need kata to learn to fight and karate the term is now a very personal or relative idea. Here's my take.

Kara-Te is a MMA, in the purest sense of the term. If you're speaking of just Ti or Te, basically perpetuated in essence by exponents of Motobu Ryu (GotenTi) then you're speaking of an art that is primarily influenced by Okinawan indigenous fighting intermingled with chin-na. If you look at the other contributing factors which help to complete karate, you'll see that they both use prearranged solo and partner forms which they call quan/kuen or kata.

If you're speaking of karate or even it's father system tode then you must mention the importance kata play in the transmission, mind-body mnemonic training and lineage preservation. Ti has prearranged sequences and kihon drills which are used to transmit its lessons. Kata does not need a partner, but partner drills are also kata.

If I could add, karate is kata, time AND heritage. It's a direct line to a time not so long ago when a peaceful people created a barbaric fighting method that was joined with the ideals of Confucianism and Buddhism. The daoist reality of the polar opposites created an artform and self-preservation science/art which would survive until now, even if it is pale a represenation of what it was or could be.

That is just too extraordinary to comprehend. This small chain of islands, inhabited by well adjusted people, happy with their plight in existence yet surrounded by others who would destroy, take and remake in their image, manage to create something bigger then any Japanese Budo or Chinese Chuan Fa. Genius, pure and simple-- that's my karate definition.

The "Hybrid Vigor Theory" applies not only to genetics, but all things.

I'd like to thank those infinitely adept and intelligent masters who made this all possible. I'll try to live up to my end of the bargain as a representative of their (and now my) MA. That's what karate means to me.

Great discussion and have a great weekend!!!

#140931 - 05/12/05 02:52 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Multiversed]
BuDoc Offline
The doctor will see you now

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1067
Loc: USA and Abroad
Hybrid Vigor Theory...nice!

Medical Advisor for the Somolian National Sumo Team

#140932 - 05/12/05 03:46 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: BuDoc]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
To refresh my memory...Hybrid Vigor is if we have XXyy and xxYY then the resulting hybrid would be XxYy making it stronger than it's parent parts?

Selective cross-breeding like racehorses. Makes sense.

The problem is, everybody since the 1960's thinks they are qualified to be a crossbreeder in MA. So now, all we have left is different strains of MMA and a few thouroughbreds. Some were more qualified and complete to mix than others.

oh man, when ingredients get thin and you start introducing water instead of milk, it just goes wrong... look what has happened to some of the overbread dogs (the ones that just shake and pee on themselves). lol

You had a great read in your post MV...but it's depressing at the same time when I extrapolated what you are saying into the present.

#140933 - 05/12/05 04:04 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: Kintama]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA

I understand what you and Multiverse and Victor are saying. But if we use this genetic model as a conceit to look at modern karate and all its subdivisions, you still have to look at the individual and see what he/she gets out of it.

Racehorses might be the soup de jour, but you might need a plowhorse some time. Or perhaps these are all obsolete considerations and the needs of today are not the needs of yesterday.

I actually don't disagree with anyone's criteria for defining karate. And am more impressed and glad that the likes of you and Victor and Multiverse are "personally" happy and satisfied with their art. This is in itself a positive.

I am happy as well and I don't seek to change that which I have learned, but personally, I would like to understand more and mold myself into a better technician. This means that I look outside the box, as well as re-evaulating all that I have learned within the box (there are still discoveries a'plenty within karate). I am selfish, I wish I could learn and practice more than I have time to do so in a modern, busy world.

But I appreciate the civil communication on this thread.

Warmest and most humble regards,


#140934 - 05/12/05 04:59 PM Re: Defining Karate [Re: butterfly]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
whoa! a couple of corrections and disclaimers. lol

Be real butterfly, you know the backgrounds. I have less than 1 good decade of training as an adult, no formal teaching... my experience is not groupable in with 'the likes' of Victor and MV's experience.

don't do that to me, bruh. lol

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