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#145116 - 05/17/05 02:11 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: nenipp]
AgenT Offline

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 314
In most cases not striking first is tactical suicide. I respect the law, but when it comes down to following the law or possiably getting killed, I'd go with what keeps me breathing regardless. I think he did use that to put a self-defense mindset in students.

#145117 - 05/17/05 04:15 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: still wadowoman]
Midnightcrawler Offline

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 184
Loc: England


"In karate there is no first attack." Famous quote by Funakoshi.

What is your take on this?Taken literally this would completely dismiss pre-emptive striking.Is that a good idea though? I don't think so.When someone has made a threatening move they have made the first attack whether they hit you or not.

I absolutely agree. Why wait for the attacker dictate what the first move will be? Someone verbally abusing me or threatening by word or deed to hit me has started the attack as far as I am concerned.

How I react would depend on the situation but I would not rule out striking pre emptively.


First time I've dissagreed with you. To be in danger is totally different from being insulted, shouted at, sworn at or anything else verbal. Its only words, and words cannot harm you. Remember the adage "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me"? It is an old saying but very true.

My own point of view is that those who elect to pre-empt (strike first) have just lowered there standards of behaviour to that somewhat lower than that of the person who they fear. Now is fear sufficent reason to an educated and logical mind to strike first? After all, being an MA you should have sufficent self control to be able to avoid the need for such an action. After all, you cannot KNOW for sure what the other persons intentions are. You might suspect, but you do not KNOW. In addition, should there be witnesses to the event, its you who will be in the $hit, when the police arrive, remember, the police have a nasty habit of arresting and charging the winner in a fight situation.

Personally, I will not strike first. I find it moraly repugnant and indicative of those with few if any scruples and most likely of poor education and moral fiber. Having said that, should you pre-emptivly strike and get away with it, do you really want to spend the next year or so looking over your shoulder? Cause (please excuse bad grammar) assuming the police have not been called, you can be certain that his or her mates are going to find you, have tracked your movements, found out your address, where you work, the route you take and where your kids go to school. They can now 'take you out at their leisure'. You're at traffic lights, motor bike pulls up beside you and you get both barrels from a 12 bore, or knowing where you live; your house is torched at 03:00, you may find your car suddenly suffers catastrophic brake failure? This is almost certainly why the poilce were not called. Do you really want that to happen?

Of course if the other guy/girl goes to strike me, I'll move a bloody site quicker than they do, but then by definition defense is re-active, not pro-active. Not my opinion, dictionary definition, unless you're all trying to re-write the English language.

Stay safe.

God only knows; Really.

#145118 - 05/17/05 04:43 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: AgenT]
nenipp Offline

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
"I respect the law, but when it comes down to following the law or possiably getting killed, I'd go with what keeps me breathing regardless."

That sounds like a good idea, but what I was saying was that the law is more important than an old karate-do ideal, not that it is more important than keeping alive.

Edited by nenipp (05/17/05 04:43 PM)

#145119 - 05/17/05 04:47 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
nenipp Offline

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
Midnightcrawler, do you mean that the bad guys will do all that shite to poor Sharon if she strikes first (pre-emptive), but not if she lets them take the first shot, before she beats the crap out of them

(none of my business, just a little difficult to follow your reasoning, could be just the late hour)

#145120 - 05/17/05 06:48 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: nenipp]
Midnightcrawler Offline

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 184
Loc: England

Hey old son, what I was saying was that irrespective of if its Sharon (who I hope to Christ it isn't) or anyone else, if you take the option of a pre-emptive strike, you stand a damn good chance of engendering a revenge mentality in your 'victim' their mates and or families. Please bear in mind that if the police are called, then you're dealing with reasonable persons (the police) and not unreasonable witnesses. If however the police are not called, then you really are dealing with some very serious bad asses, who are only too willing to sort out their own 'justice'. It might not be as I outlined in my previous post, it might be that once the 'mark' has been identified (you) an RTA could be engineered.

By pre-empting an attack which you only suppose has yet to happen, and of which you have no concrete knowledge that it actually WILL happen, you are likely to exacerbate an already stressed situation. At which point YOU have become the aggressor and are therefore no better than the other party, if as good as. This is most likely to be the perception of Mr Bad Ass and his mates as he or she has yet to do anything physical against you. If on the other hand you allow the other party to make the first move, then the perception would likely be 'well if he/she hadn't hit out first it wouldn't have happened'

In the eyes of the general public (who would after all comprise any jury) the person who strikes first is unquestionably guilty. Oh, and I don't buy all this balls about rather being judged by 12 than carried by six crap either, as it presupposes the very worst case senario.

So you see to all you pre-empters out there, do some serious thinking about the long term ramifications of your proposed actions, and whether and if those ramifications are worth the risks to yourself and your family as a result. You most likely don't know who you are taking on, what their family connections are (underworld low life's etc) to what level they will stoop to exact retribution and or the time scale they will hold a grudge for; it could be for years, long after you have forgotten the incident. It doesn't seem to me that you have given this much thought. Maybe now is the time that you should.

I do not expect my post on this subject to be popular, it isn't the way we are taught, (hell, I've had many vigerous discussions over many pints, with my Sen on this very topic over the years) and they have not yet convinced me of the veracity of this argument.


Edited by Midnightcrawler (05/17/05 06:55 PM)
God only knows; Really.

#145121 - 05/17/05 08:46 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
"In karate there is no first attack." Famous quote by Funakoshi.

What was in Funakoshi's mind? Was he thinking of a late night mugging on the way home from class in Okinawa? He wrote of his early experiences, and Midnightcrawler's comments make sense in that cultural context.

But are we all thinking of that type of altercation? I confess to trying to apply the saying to a more deadly encounter.

#145122 - 05/17/05 10:00 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: harlan]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
I can't tell you what was in his mind, but I can tell you my opinion...

personally, I don't think he meant it literally for every situation. I think he meant it as a strongly suggested attitude of self-defense as a wise social guidline.

Before Itosu introduced the system in the public school system on Okinawa, Karate (Tode) was widely known, but not officially part of the social structure. Once it became 'official' a behavior guidline had to be established to teach moral character along with the physical training.

part of that moral character building was making sure Karate did not just produce well-trained thugs. The principal of not attacking first fits nicely into that paradigm.

#145123 - 05/17/05 10:25 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
Multiversed Offline

Registered: 03/11/03
Posts: 642
Loc: Sa, Tx. USA


All of your words make sense, and morally you are taking the high ground. I have one question to ask though. Have you ever been jumped, stolen, mugged or at least fought as an adult to protect yourself or loved ones? From what you've written, it sure doesn't sound like it.

If the threat looks imminent, your first priority is saving your arse. Without that there is no reason to be a pacifist. You can't hope to know the attackers intent, just that for some reason they are on the verge of possibly maiming or killing you. They are obviously not there to shake your hand or give you hug, if they come at you "[censored] diesel", as the cool kids say.

If we are training in the original intent then "karate ni sente nashi" is an adage used to guard against unwanton violence and aggressive behavior. It is a state of mind and is specific for a given situation. It is a "bully-safe" measure, not a credo of weakness or naivete.

Causing trouble and pushing folks around is what Funakoshi was trying to guard against, not taking the initiative when the threat is at your doorstep. Confucianism and Daoism play just as an important role as the Ch'an (Zen) Buddhist principles seen in modern karate. Balance is the key. Softness needs to be balanced with the hard and rough.

Like Kintama said and my sensei preaches, the way of the smart warrior is "Sen no Sen" or "Sente". Understand what true Okinawan karate spirit is and you'd never question this premise. Know where you came from to know where you're going and how you're getting there.

Peace or pieces, however they want it...

#145124 - 05/18/05 12:55 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
nenipp Offline

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
what I'm having a difficult time digesting, is your suggestion that the same kind of people that do all those nasty things, would have some kind of "honour among thugs" (?) and think everything is OK just because they got to deliver the first physical violence.

#145125 - 05/18/05 05:03 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Multiversed]
kichigai Offline

Registered: 04/28/05
Posts: 6
Loc: Lynn Haven, Fl
I particularly like this phrase and I have it hanging in my dojo. (My sensei brushed it for me.) However I have a different take on it's meaning. It really doesn't say,
"Don't attack people", and it doesn't really say, "Let the other guy attack first" It is telling us that there is no first hand or initiating hand in karate. I take this to mean that we must always be prepared to use our karate.
It is another paradox, similar to this - If we are constantly using our karate, then we never really have to use our karate. So, if we always take the initiative (Being mentally and physically prepared and ready), then we never have to take the initiative, (fight)
On another level, if we attack first, we expose our vital areas to our opponent. If our opponent attacks first, then we can exploit his. I find it interesting that on another part of this forum, blocks were being discussed. These ideas actually are interdependent upon each other (like most of our practice!)


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