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#141123 - 05/09/05 09:07 PM Is sport degrading karate?
AgenT Offline

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 314
I'd like to know peoples views on this touchy subject. I'm not really against sport in karate as I believe people have a right to do what they want. However I am concerned with how modern karate do is teaching sport aspects as self-defense techniques and watering down the self-defense side of karate so much that the techiques and original purposes are lost. The biggest example I've seen of this which really disturbs me, is how kata is taught with absolutely no bunkai and beginner students are allowed to change different aspects of kata because they are seen as unimportant parts or karate. Also what bothers me is the lack of morals, and focus on just fighting and not avoidance.

Teach what you know,regardless of when you learned it--teach what you learned yesterday sagely, as if you have kown it all your life, and teach what you have known for decades with enthusiasm, as if you learned it only yesterday

#141124 - 05/09/05 09:53 PM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
Sanchin Offline

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 174
I believe "political commercialism" degrades karate, and modern sport karate is a byproduct of the "PC". Still doesnt take away the fact that modern sport karateka are still conditioned athletes, usually very fast, agile, and powerful athletes, which definately isnt a bad thing.
"Everything is already, and always will be given" - Our New Pope. B

#141125 - 05/09/05 10:39 PM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
This isn't addressed to the author of the topic...this is to everyone reading. [edit] INCLUDING myself! [/edit]

If what you are doing feels degrading...then don't do it.

Change starts with the individual...if more people start realizing this is not what we want, the market will gradually adapt to satisfy our interests. simple supply and demand economics.

Sport Karate is neither good nor's what 'we' wanted and 'we' get what 'you' deserve.

Same goes for anything we have a choice on: a leader of your country, a fuel efficient car, investing in kids and education, eating junk food.... we get what you deserve.

Take responsibility for your own choices by being aware of the quality of those choices and maybe we'll see a change.

#141126 - 05/09/05 10:55 PM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: Kintama]
AgenT Offline

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 314
I will reply to this anyway, I didnt say that sport karate is bad. What bothers me is sport karate methods being passed off as self-defense or combative methods. Theres suckers out there that dont know the difference, and think sport is sd, if they knew that is wasnt I dont think they'd want it anymore. Theres a sucker born every minute, that I believe does damage karate. I'm fine with the sport side and used to enjoy it, but I have a big problem when teachers out there teach sport methods that will get people seriously hurt.

#141127 - 05/10/05 01:36 AM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
Yes! In a way it has. People doing sport karate got the big head and got whooped. Giving karate a bad rap as being ineffective. Most people don't even know the difference between them. Sometimes I am asked "oh, you do karate too?",me,"yes". "My cousin is a blackbelt and he won first place at his last tournament! What place did you get?" me. "ummm,well,nevermind"
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

#141128 - 05/10/05 04:09 AM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
Hedgehogey Offline

Registered: 12/23/04
Posts: 274
Perhaps if you implemented a set of rules that had people actually doing this semi-mythical "hitting" thing to each other, instead of playing tag with neon sock-em boppers?

#141129 - 05/10/05 07:59 AM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: Hedgehogey]
Bushi_no_ki Offline

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1669
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
Sport Karate has degraded the arts in some way, but in other ways, it has improved it. It can degrade a dojo when the entire focus is on the next tournament, but there are dojos out there that might attend tournaments, but focus on the traditions and the functionality of what they teach. The best forms I've ever seen in tournaments were done by traditionalist practitioners who did the kata exactly as they were taught, as if they were going up for a belt grading. And the best thing is, when these guys go to tournaments, they show power and proper technique, not a bunch of worthless flash, and they do win trophies.

#141130 - 05/10/05 08:14 AM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
CVV Offline

Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
I like sport karate, especially for the youth (8 - 25 yo).
I started some 25 years ago at age 15. We would do warm-up
makiwara kihon kata and jiu kumite. In kata, no explenation was given and we would only do gekisai sanchin saifa seyunchin. In kumite, fighting was hard semi contact (moderate on face and not below hips) implementing mostly only kihon techniques. We would fight ippon shobu and sanbon shobu systems in tournaments with moderate contact on face (no injury) but mostly all-out on body. No contact on throat no open hand techniques in face. On average 1 out of 10 would still train after a year. Of the hundreds maybe even more than thousand, I have known coming and going the last 25 years only 20 have reached shodan. Focus was very heavy on kumite. Minimum age to start was 14 years old.
Nowadays, we focus on kata and moderate contact fighting for the youth. Most start at age 8 - 12 and this is our base to work for the future of karate. I like to give them short term goals like training for a tournament once and a while. This gives them focus and makes them enthousiastic. Although it should be stressed that winning is not the goal but improving yourself. As such, competition training should be done in prparation for but not the goal of training. Overal we encourage to participate 2 - 3 times a year in tournament. From 16 year old till 25+ year old the sport factor is an individual decision. If your good at it, why not persue it. Afterall after 25 you can still persue mor than 50 years(let's hope) all the other aspects within karate. Again focus in our dojo is towards a traditional approach with general application knowledge of kata techniques. On sports level, the federation has sport training available at least 2 time a month for all +14 yo who wish to participate and additional training for 'selected' athletes.
I certainly agree that sport karate (kata and kumite) do not encompas the total value of karate but I am quite sure that regular sport kumite fighters (even point fighters) can make decent contact if necesary. As such, I am sure they will give a good fight when necesary.
Most important for me is to guide our students towards shodan. After that they can participate as they see fit either through sport or more traditional training. As such, I see the sport side as a tool to make karate popular and to train certain aspects like fighting distance and overcoming it, reaction training with others than with people from the dojo.
I am still involved in sport karate as a national referee but do not limit my training to only sport techniques and strategies, in fact I no longer train focused on sport but teach from time to time focussing on sport.
The self defense aspect is, I believe, more a mental than physical issue. Sport fighting can help into overcoming fear of contact with strangers.
So to conclude, I think sport karate is not degrading it as long as it is viewed as a tool and not becomes the standard. Without it, I do not think karate would be so popular.

#141131 - 05/10/05 09:19 AM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: CVV]
Chatan1979 Offline

Registered: 03/21/05
Posts: 338
Loc: Mahomet , Illinois
wow good topic. I have had this discussion with my dojo many times. We do not do tournaments of any kind. If a student is interested in doing one, he or she may do so on their own time. I agree that sometimes some school overly focus on the sport or sparing aspects of martial arts. Ive seen a few where all they focus on is tournament techniques and what will get them the most points. The sad part is that those students think they are learining Self defense. They get the idea that a street situaton will be like sparring. Ive gotten into arguments with one student of mine in particular.
He transfered into our school from another style. We welcomed him and honored his blackbelt provided he take the time to learn our system as well. He comes from a hard tournament school. Any time we do self defense techniques he bounces around like he is sparring and tries to do all these tournament type techniques(high kicks, spin kicks, etc). He just cant seem to understand that in a tournament there are rules and regulations, on the street its different.

anyway im not saying all schools that do tournaments cant defend themselves on the street. As long as there is a good balance and an explanation of what is streetdefense techniques and what is gonna get you a point in a tournament, then tournaments are fine. I just feel that too many people get into that overly competetive attitude and they think that what works in the ring will work in the street.
There is always someone who knows more, and noone who knows it all....

#141132 - 05/10/05 03:01 PM Re: Is sport degrading karate? [Re: AgenT]
nenipp Offline

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
I'm not sure that sport is the only reason that the "self defence" training got lost. I'm absolutely no history expert, but the very little research I have done indicates that Itosu et al's project of including (the forerunner of) karate in the Okinawan scool program, meant changing the practice methods quite a bit (to suite training for children and teaching of large groups).

Of course the term "karate" came along after this change had occured, so one could argue that karate always was a much simpler (I don't want to use the term degraded, because it worked well and served it's purpose, albeit that purpose may have differed from that of it's precursor) art than the Okinawan (Chinese influenced) arts from which it was developed. In that point of view sport hasn't done much to "degrade" it, on the contrary it has helped spread and nurture the interest in the "karate arts".

I wonder how many of us would have been introduced to these wonderful traditions, if it weren't for the same people that in our eyes degraded them?
(it's like malt whiskies, how likely is it that we would have access to that wonderful word today, if it wasn't for the popularity of the blended stuff that spread around the globe)
But I do agree that if you teach competition sparring, it would be more honest to call it so.

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