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#145106 - 05/17/05 06:02 AM "Karate ni sente nashi"
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
"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.
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#145107 - 05/17/05 06:15 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
shoshinkan Offline
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Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
for me the threat could be verbal, physical or by intent.

Obviously the level of my response is where my karate comes in.

However karate is a response, preemptive striking is a response to a signal of attack. although i would have to feel very threatended to strike first.

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#145108 - 05/17/05 06:17 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
Celebrian Offline
Member

Registered: 04/15/05
Posts: 59
Loc: QLD Australia
I'd interpret that to mean....like, we talk about attack and defence, and if we are say, sparring someone, or in a dangerous situation somewhere, you never attack, you start the fight/strike in defence, to prevent the other person from hurting you. So, here you could say that In karate, there is no attack, everything is defence.

thats just my 2cents.

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#145109 - 05/17/05 06:42 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
Quote:

"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.
Sharon
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#145110 - 05/17/05 07:24 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: still wadowoman]
Kintama Offline
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Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
"Karate ni sente nashi" is the desired mindset of always trying to avoid or de-escalate situations.

while avoiding a fight, a "sen no sen" awareness is reasonable. which is attacking at the same moment your opponent attacks.

Literally, "sen no sen" means "initiative of initiative"

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#145111 - 05/17/05 10:02 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
CVV Offline
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Registered: 08/06/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Belgium
Words with more or less the same meaning :

'Do not be struck by others’
‘Do not strike others’
‘The principle is the peace without incident'

(Miyagi Chojun)

But I also like Mototbu's approach; when the fight is on, strike first and strike hard.

The duality is inherent to the Okinawan mindset to evade conflict for the purpose of personal gain, often related to status or material wealth.
If however the cause is just and the fight is on, Motobu's approach is the way to go.

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#145112 - 05/17/05 11:02 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Kintama]
harlan Offline
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Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Would this be analogous to the concept of 'killing their sword'?

Quote:

"Karate ni sente nashi" is the desired mindset of always trying to avoid or de-escalate situations.

while avoiding a fight, a "sen no sen" awareness is reasonable. which is attacking at the same moment your opponent attacks.

Literally, "sen no sen" means "initiative of initiative"



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#145113 - 05/17/05 11:26 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: harlan]
Kintama Offline
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Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
Harlan, yes, but for Karate, it would be more like "killing the waza".

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#145114 - 05/17/05 12:48 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
AgenT Offline
Member

Registered: 10/11/04
Posts: 314
http://www.iainabernethy.com/articles/article_2.htm

This is a good article on this topic. I share many of the same ideals.

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#145115 - 05/17/05 02:01 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: AgenT]
nenipp Offline
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Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
I agree that the statement shouldn't be taken too literally, but all that aside; in a dangerous situation wouldn't the laws of your country (whichever that is) be of slightly greater importance than an old karate-do ideal?

I've sometimes tossed an idea into this same debate: what if Funakishi said so ("karate ni sente nashi") to remind his sparring-eager students what the original intention of kata techniques was?

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

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.

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

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

Quote:

"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.
Sharon




Sharon,

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.

MC.
_________________________
God only knows; Really.

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

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

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

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

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.

MC.


Edited by Midnightcrawler (05/17/05 06:55 PM)
_________________________
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#145121 - 05/17/05 08:46 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
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.

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#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.

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

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


Midnigthcrawler,

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...

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

Registered: 04/13/04
Posts: 1205
MC,
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.

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

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!)

Kichigai

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#145126 - 05/18/05 05:29 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: kichigai]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
I've never been trained by anybody who taught a code of conduct, except by rule of politeness in the dojo.

Sure I've read Funakoshi and several other Okinawan instructors. Just from memory was it Miyagi who wrote when hearing a group of attackers coming in the dark hide and let them pass, then follow them and if they're going to attack somebody else, strike them first.

If you take the time to search out 'sayings' you can find several answers.

The closest I think Isshinryu has is the 'code of karate' from the Bubishi which says 'The time to strike is when the opportunity presents itself' and of which Funakoshi included in his first 3 books.

As for what's a first strike, well Japan's strike on Pearl Harbour was a defensive one, responding to the USA's blockade of Japan, from the Japanese point of view.

How does one respond to a 'situation', there is no simple formula, we'll all respond as we feel we must, doing someting, doing nothing, striking first, counter striking, or screaming from the grave.

We're just human.

But the saying from the Bubishi seems rather appropriate to me.
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#145127 - 05/22/05 01:56 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Multiversed]
Midnightcrawler Offline
Dragon

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

In answer to your question (at least at face value). No I have never been involved in a physical altercation during my adult life. I would personally define that as having never been involved in a fight.

However, if as many of you would seem to define a fight as having already started at the point where voices are raised, then I would have been involved in many fights, but have chosen to walk away rather than do harm to a fellow human being. Some may view this as being cowardice, I take the view that it is common sense. This is on the basis that; 1) I do no harm to another, 2) I have no harm done to me, 3) There is no chance of me being prosecuted by the law & 4) I cannot be subject to a revenge attack, such as I have outlined in my previous postings.

You see, I have spent a long time thinking the LONG TERM situation through and analysing the LONG TERM ramifications. As a result of my deliberations have made a personal policy decision that for me there is no first strike option. You see, until a strike is thrown its all just words. If someone was to refer to me as being a 'razor backed, mother f-----g son of a [censored]' why should I take offense? They are not attacking me, just expressing an opinion, one I do not aggree with, but nontheless just an opinion. We in England live in a democratic society, where opinions can be freely expressed and if I were to lash out on the basis of a dissagreement over opinion, I would be seeking to act as a dictator, enforcing my opinion onto others. Totally unaceptable.

In regard to your assertion about being 'bully safe'. Unfortunately schools do exist which not only teach the pre-emptive strike but poitively encourage it, foolishly in my opinion. One such school being the highly disreputable Bushido (B.A.M.A. (UK)) in England. Such is the crazy nature of this martial farce and the madmen and women teaching and attending this school, that it makes me ashamed to be English. Their membership could never attain any moral high ground in anything.

MC.
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God only knows; Really.

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#145128 - 05/23/05 05:36 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: SANCHIN31]
PineForest Offline
Member

Registered: 05/23/05
Posts: 26
Loc: Nebraska
There is no first attack in karate:

I've got to think this is a state of mind rather than an absolute--albeit a very important state of mind. The mindset of a karate-ka ought not be a lust for action or quick to provoke a confrontation. Rather, all possible solutions to resolve conflict should be exhausted before using physical means (including those that may elicit the ego bruising "chicken" term). But when all else fails and physical assault is unavoidable, the way of the intercepting fist is completely reasonable.
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#145129 - 05/25/05 04:18 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: PineForest]
Ives Offline
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Registered: 04/25/05
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Sometimes someone entering your personal space/perimeter, (I do not mean any form of real estate ) is considered an offensive move. So an attack. Therefor you are mosttimes not the first to attack.
But I must say you really shows strength by not getting seduced to getting into a fight. Eventhough you are very competent in fighting.
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#145130 - 04/01/08 11:12 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Ives]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Bump! Anymore opinions on Funakoshi's words?
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#145131 - 04/01/08 11:46 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: BrianS]
Zach_Zinn Offline
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Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
I seem to remember hearing it translated in a different way at some point, something like "in Karate the first strike gives no advantage"...anyone remember such a thing?

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#145132 - 04/02/08 03:06 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Zach_Zinn]
Bossman Offline
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Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
Funakoshi also said "Techniques will occur when a void is found." There is a point where a cool head will always respond at the right time. You just know when an attack is inevitable.
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#145133 - 04/02/08 03:43 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Zach_Zinn]
Shonuff Offline
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Registered: 11/03/04
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Zach, I believe you are thinking of Rob Redmonds (24fightingchickens.com) re-translation of the Dojo kun and Niju kun. Can't remember exactly what it said but it may still be on his site.
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#145134 - 04/15/08 06:01 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: nenipp]
Uchinanchu Offline
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Registered: 02/09/06
Posts: 99
Loc: Okinawa, Japan
This is not just a "code to adhere to", but also (believe it or not), sound advice concerning self-defence. If you look at practically every single kata of Okinawan karate, regardless of style, they all start with defencive postures/blocks.
One of the main (combative) reasons for this, from what I've been taught, is that if you strike first, you are opening yourself up ie. exposing vulnerable target areas that otherwise would be protected if you stayed your hand, kept your guard, and waited for an opening (openent's attacking limb/exposed torso etc...) and then attack with your block/strike.
My simple understanding of a basic underlying principal of the Okinawan arts...
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#145135 - 04/15/08 03:11 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: nenipp]
JAMJTX Offline
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Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
Very simple, as I have always been told:
Rule #1: Each gets 1 move
Rule #2: The first to move loses

There is no first strike in karate. Unless of course you want to lose.

It is dealing with strategy, not philosophy about not starting a fight.


Edited by JAMJTX (04/15/08 03:11 PM)

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#145136 - 04/15/08 03:21 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: BrianS]
Seiken Offline
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Registered: 03/29/08
Posts: 131
Loc: USA
There is no first attack. Meaning our attacks are in response to anothers attack. I see no where in the quote that correlates when it should be, you can still start a fight and not attack first. I feel its more a method, not a code of life. He had other quotes about life.

Sounds like something you would hear a boxing coach say to teach counter fighting. Wait for their jab, pick it off and counter... dont attack first.

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#145137 - 04/15/08 03:59 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Bossman]
schanne Offline
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Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Karate Ni Sente Nashi

There is no first attack in karate, understand the idea mentally and as well technically. You must do everything possible so the attacker mentally understands that it is better for him not to attack. This is the true meaning of the above saying, that the adversary does not begin attacking and so there is no fight.

I found this translation interesting and copied it from some place I can't remember?????
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The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#145138 - 04/15/08 04:02 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Bossman]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Bossman, for what it's worth I visit your website regularly and enjoy listening to your MA philosophy and video clips..keep up the great work!
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The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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#145139 - 04/15/08 06:25 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: schanne]
Stampede Offline
Lord of the Kazoo

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 967
Loc: El Dorado, AR
Quote:

Motobu Choki:

"Karate is Sente (3)."

(3)Here, Sente means initiative, or the first move.




This is taken from Motobu Choki: My Art, translated by Patrick McCarthy Sensei. It's available from the FightingArts.com store. If the extent of the quote is inappropriate, I will edit the post so as not to plagiarize the author's work.

It's a good book. Highly recommend it.

There is also Additional talk on "Karate ni Sente Nashi" referring to the act of precipitating a violent encounter, meaning it is immoral to start a fight. Choki sensei expressly states it is not a tactical issue, but a tact issue.
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Formerly Vash

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#145140 - 04/16/08 11:13 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Midnightcrawler]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Midnightcrawler:

Faced with a huge, belligerant (lets make this simple) drunken moron with all kinds of inappropriate anger, corners you, or confronts you, and you believe they will atrike you... they indicate they will strike you...

You will NOT take a physical action first, because of your governing philosophy ???

Jeff

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#145141 - 04/16/08 11:21 AM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: schanne]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Schanne:

Well said....

We can take ALL kinds of physical actions to neutralize or minimize the potential of a physical attack doing damage.

Move to the side rather than face to face...
Stay to the outside of their "strength"
Casually placing our arms, groin, body into positions that prevent vulnerability to "direct attack"

If attacked physically are we COMPELLED to respond physically or, or is smothering it sufficent and disengage?


Jeff

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#145142 - 04/16/08 04:00 PM Re: "Karate ni sente nashi" [Re: Ronin1966]
Ironfoot Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 2682
Loc: St. Clair Shores, MI USA
I'll go with Isshinryu's "strike when the opportunity presents itself". Obviously, that doesn't mean any time you FEEL like it - just anytime when it's necessary.
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