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#388829 - 03/29/08 08:25 PM What is Kata/Karate Missing?
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Go back 100 years and what do you think is the best guess of the number of Okinawan adults training in karate? 100, 200? Hardly more than that.

Now jump 100 years and there are what 30,000,000 people practicing karate (loosely defined or perhaps more accurately asian martial arts)?

What do you think, unless you’re practicing a style directly linked to Okinawa, the chances are your practice has to do with what they were doing 100 years ago?

But as the world turns we’re constantly challenged what karate is missing, what it’s weaknesses are, what it need to add to work.

From my studies the potential of an Okinawan system of karate is almost limitless, and a lot of a definition Patrick McCarthy once translated for Kara, not empty but infinite as the infinity of space, and in turn not Chinese Hand, or Empty Hand but Infinite Hand resonates with what I continue to see.

Now how much of a systems potential is addressed by instructor/student depends on their focus. Many systems potentials are likely severely constrained, as opposed to their potential. But infinte is a very slippery concept. No matter how much you do, no matter how hard you try, there will always be an infinite number of things you’re not doing.

So take a generic Okinawan karate system of study. Old style, largely kata interspaced with kata applications. Developed on Okinawa, a mostly quiet place, not really one where hand to hand combat was needed, and in turn only a handful of people before 100 years ago even had the chance to learn at that time.

In fact Okinawa’s Sumo tradition, sport standing grappling, was part of the lay of the land. There was no reason to see that going to the ground as a focus of combat was interwoven into their arts. Of course this is just a high level abstraction, there are techniques for example in Kusanku Kata or Seipai Kata where grounding the opponent to finish them are clearly the focus.

Time passes, and today’s competitive drive for BJJ, or MMA seem to show holes in karate’s potential. Of course there have been karate-ka who have beaten BJJ for example, the rule that it is the person not the art is always true and too often forgotten.

Looking at the Okinawan karate, with kata’s core existence, it is often overlooked that there were always additional training drills and practices not found in kata but still a strong part of the Okinawan tradition. How they were explored varies from instructor to instructor.

How much an instructor can do with the art is not just their wish, but is really controlled by the student and how much effort and ability they evidence.

In those long gone year, the focus was the instructor, not style or group. When a student was sufficiently advanced they often shared students with each other, to develop the student and likely to gain new knowledge through their efforts. Their arts weren’t fixed as much as they were variable to the needs of their times.

If any system is missing a variety of training to the outside observer it may well look like a weakness. Follow that to today, the idea karate training cannot cope with the experienced grappler, hence grappling must be added to the karate mix.

I have no brook with anyone’s choices in their arts development, that is individual choice, but let’s consider is that really necessary?

Very rarely do many really consider what a system of training means. I’d suggest it is first a basic way of training to build simple skills, a more advanced way of training (IMO Kata) and then other layers of training to develop special skills, application potential study (not limited to the current idea of what bunkai is, a answer or two for a movement).

A balance of hand and foot techniques, methods of moving, methods of imparting impact and leverage into an opponent. And a means to move those skills into layers of advanced usage.

But does that system of study handle advanced BJJ grapplers? On the surface no, it was not a grappling art on the surface. All claims withstanding, if kata for example have ground fighting applications if you can’t produce Okinawan instructors showing it in their training, it doesn’t exist that it can be acknowledged (either historic or current).

Of course that does not preclude individual effort to make that so, and if it works, fine, but to suggest historical relevance, show me an Okinwan or make a different agument.

Is the missing key, grappling?

Look in the past 100 year there have been huge numbers who’ve trained in grappling before the current trends. There are likely huge numbers who’ve also played footlball. All of which touch those grappling and takedown skills.

Where are the statistics, not homilies like ‘all fights end on the ground’, to prove that is truly relevant for defense? I haven’t seen anything that makes a case from what actually occurs.

But is an art lacking if it doesn’t address that style of attack?

Even more, is that the right type of attack, or should we find something more relevant than what is showing up on TV? Perhaps knife attacks where I find little reason that I want to grapple with someone holding a knife? Perhaps gun attacks, ditto. Perhaps Mike Tyson is the attack to fear, or current news article of the day, not wishing to pick on Mike (I’m too smart for that).

The missing key for karate, in all its varieties, isn’t add grappling, but tactical thinking.

I’m walking down the street, someone rushes out of the bar and begins attacking towards my legs to cut me down. Tactics simple, “Turn to the Rear and Run Like Hell”. Worked for the American Army in the battle of Cowpens in SC in the Revolutionary War, it decimated the British and tactically, with variation for empty hand defense, it can work against many attacks, even ground fighters.

For example why do you want to fight them. First level of analysis, evasion is more sensible than fighting. Fighting only has 3 basic outcomes:
1. You Win beating them up
2. You Lose them beating you up
3. Both of you beat up each other – regardless of whether you call it a win or lose

Life is not a game. If you win and break them, their family can sue your butt and you can end up in jail for a long time.

So evasion has it’s uses.

Likewise if they start one type of attack, but then choose to pursue you they’re no longer practicing their art, but they’re running in pursuit. That leaves other options, such as a snap turn and their throat tries to run through your spear hand. You’ve broken their advantage.

Just a few examples.

All training is about force multiplication. You train in an art to develop skill to more effectively use techniques. Striking, kicking or whatever. In that context grappling is certainly a major force multiplier, your taking the opponent to the ground can limit their movements and increase the force you impart into them.

Still for realistic defense is grappling wise? I train my advancing students in advanced force multiplication, placing something in their hand and then moving it through an opponents face, as one example as well as locks, throws, takedowns all assisted in such manner.

So again is ground technique what is really needed, or is it other options that ground technique does not address.

Depending on how you frame your answer you will make choices.

I am firm in my understanding that stronger tactical use of karate is all that is needed and perhaps a small force multiplier, a sock with a roll of nickels in it, or a key chain, or a can.

In fact one of the Okinawan masters gave an extremely sound answer how to handle a group of ‘toughs’ moving in your direction after dark falls. 1. Hide so they don’t see you. 2. after they pass follow them discretely 3. if they try to threaten anyone 4. blast into them from behind when they’re not looking.

Why does anyone really believe karate was really designed to face attackers before them? IMO it’s a nice story for beginners. Tactically karate is great when striking someone who’s not looking.

Tactics how to use what you have is IMO the most important study.

Seek out what you feel you have to, that is the oldest tradition. But if you don’t follow that path your art is in no way lesser.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#388830 - 03/29/08 09:18 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Victor Smith]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Very interesting post, Victor. Many parallels to our recent conversation in PA!

Quote:

Now how much of a systems potential is addressed by instructor/student depends on their focus. Many systems potentials are likely severely constrained, as opposed to their potential. But infinte is a very slippery concept. No matter how much you do, no matter how hard you try, there will always be an infinite number of things you’re not doing.




IMHO, this very complexity makes a reasonable case for cross-training. Picking away at one art for non-focus attributes can gain you similar technical considerations, but if the concept you are searching for is a focus of another art, it would be expedient to simply study the other art, right?

Quote:

But does that system of study handle advanced BJJ grapplers? On the surface no, it was not a grappling art on the surface. All claims withstanding, if kata for example have ground fighting applications if you can’t produce Okinawan instructors showing it in their training, it doesn’t exist that it can be acknowledged (either historic or current).

Of course that does not preclude individual effort to make that so, and if it works, fine, but to suggest historical relevance, show me an Okinwan or make a different agument.




My admittedly limited research has come to the same conclusion.

Quote:

Where are the statistics, not homilies like ‘all fights end on the ground’, to prove that is truly relevant for defense? I haven’t seen anything that makes a case from what actually occurs.




http://www.fightingarts.com/ubbthreads/s...=6#Post15970676

Quote:

Why does anyone really believe karate was really designed to face attackers before them? IMO it’s a nice story for beginners. Tactically karate is great when striking someone who’s not looking.




I agree with that 100%. And not just for karate, either. BJJ/MMA has a strong focus to "take the back" if possible, as well. Much of my stand-up sparring is predicated on getting behind, or to the "blind-side" of the opponent.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#388831 - 03/29/08 10:03 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: MattJ]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Thanks Matt,

I had you in mind while I was writing this.

It's never a simple answer. We all will follow whatever path we feel is right, but the larger study of tactics becomes impossible to address. It truly is one of the vast internet conversation stopers.

Tactically any art, any technique should be able to defeat any other technqiue. I'm reading 'Turn Around and Runn Like Hell' by Joseph Cummings, now brilliant commanders throughout history used inspired unconvenetial military strategies that worked.

Sure if you're going into the ground against a grappler, you might well be handiapped if you play by his rules.

Fortunately the big rule book of karate I received when I got my black belt is nothing but blank pages. I have no rules, recognize none buy my personal choice what I will do.

I have a solid ground tradition in my own studies, but not the manner which the current discussions follow. Sounder to keep it private, a surprise perhaps.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#388832 - 03/29/08 10:22 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Victor Smith]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
You know, Victor. I'm a beginner, but when I look at examples of 'sparring' that I see...what comes to mind to me...is that I don't 'see karate' in sparring. It's hard to explain, but from my admittedly limited understanding, to me there is a 'disconnect' between this type of exercise, and what we practice. From what people point to as a fundamental way to 'test' their karate, and my understanding of 'fighting'...which has a totally different sense of time and strategy.

If it isn't breaking any rules (??), I'd like to post some outtakes of a very good article from this month's Classical Fighting Arts.

****************************************

A Karate Odyssey: An Interview with Sensei Pat Nakata (Classical Fighting Arts, Vol 2, No. 13)

By Graham Noble and Charles C. Goodin

GN: Returning to your first visit, you had already trained in Wado-Ryu in Japan. What differences did you find in Okinawan Shorin-Ryu, for example in technique?

PN: Chibana Chosin’s Shorin-Ryu karate was a totally different mind set than that of Ohtsuka Sensei’s Wado-Ryu karate. Wado-Ryu karate was sports karate. Chibana Sensei’s karate was based upon ippon kowashi no waza (One technique to destroy the opponent).

Chibana Sensei’s kata were power based with kime on practically all the techniques, thus Chibana Sensei’s kata were more staccato. Chibana Sensei’s kata had a count for each movement, whereas Ohtsuka Sensei’s kata were combinations for most counts.

Ohtsuka Sensei’s blocks were deflections. So in most of Ohtsuka Sensei’s kata where there were blocks, they were part of a block/punch combination. On the other hand, Chibana Sensei emphasized ippon kowashi (to destroy with one blow) even on the blocks.

GN: So Chibana Sensei did not teach the kihon practice as we know it from Japanese karate – i.e. the going up and down the dojo doing many repetitions of oi-zuki, gyaku-zuki, and the different kicks and blocks?

PN: Chibana Sensei’s kata training was kihon training. Each technique in the kata is a kihon technique. The kata is a combination of kihon techniques. The kata allow one to flow from one technique to another. If we were to do each basic ten times, Chibana Sensei would rather have us do the kata ten times.

GN: Was there much prearranged (“one step” etc.) kumite in the training sessions?

PN: Chibana Sensei noted that from his observations, prearranged kumite (ippon kumite, yakusoku kumite, kihon kumite, etc.) developed an unrealistic cooperation between the attacker and defender. The attacker developed an attack so the opponent could see the attack. The defender developed a sit and wait strategy. To Chibana Sensei, kata were more realistic combat training.

GN: In Japan you did a lot jiyu kumite training. What was the Shorin-Ryu take on jiyu kumite? Was it practiced much, or was practice more on prearranged kumite?

PN: Chibana Sensei never used the term ‘kumite”. In Shorin-Ryu there was no sparring. We fought and had shobu (matches).

GN: Did you miss the intense jiyu kumite practice of Japan?

PN: Yes and no. Yes, I missed the jiyu kumite practice of Japan, but we used to spar at the dojo with a match lasting about three to ten seconds. On off nights, I would visit other dojo to have matches. Okinawan karate-ka had no rules of engagement and everything was full contact.

GN: What form would those 3 to 10 second matches take?

PN: As soon as we started a match, I would walk straight into the opponent to force the opponent to do something. If I had no response from the opponent, I would deliver an attack.

I could use my Japanese karate techniques only after I modified them to match the Okinawan mentality. The Okinawans did not spar – they fought. For instance, in Japan you would deflect a punch or kick to counter. In Okinawa, they would block your punch or kick and try to destroy your arm or leg.

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#388833 - 03/29/08 11:15 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: harlan]
Zach_Zinn Offline
Veteran

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 1031
Loc: Olympia, WA
This statement strikes me as odd:

Quote:


I could use my Japanese karate techniques only after I modified them to match the Okinawan mentality. The Okinawans did not spar – they fought. For instance, in Japan you would deflect a punch or kick to counter. In Okinawa, they would block your punch or kick and try to destroy your arm or leg.




You think they were really trying to destroy eachother's limbs in the dojo?

Personally it sounds to me like they were, in fact sparring on some level, no matter how different from Japanese Jiyu-kumite it may have been.

I don't think sparring is a way to test your karate, it's just a tool for training certain things, depending on the type of engagement being done.

My opinion is that Karate is not "missing" anything, the value of training is largely subject to the person training in it, what they want out of it, and the quality of their teacher.

Everyone seems to think there is some unwritten rule that we are in a constant battle for which art is the "completest"...to me this line of thought is pointless.


Edited by Zach_Zinn (03/29/08 11:23 PM)

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#388834 - 03/29/08 11:26 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Victor Smith]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772

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#388835 - 03/29/08 11:44 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Victor Smith]
ButterflyPalm Offline
Enigma

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
Quote:

Sure if you're going into the ground against a grappler, you might well be handiapped if you play by his rules.




It all started when they turned martial arts into a politically correct sport. So when you meet or spar with a grappler, it is not polite to do a hammer fist onto the back of his neck when he shoots for your legs. And so you try to resist by grabbing for his shoulders or arms and all the while jamming your legs down and maintaining balance and not falling backwards. How long can you last? Sooner than later you will "go to the ground" and all your stand-up skills goes out the window.

If this is what we are talking about, then there is really no end to the kind of skills needed or needed to equip oneself with given the sheer multiplicity of martial skills martial artists can come up with and train for. If we are talking about in the days when martial art was to equip oneself with combat skills for mortal combat, then being very very very good in one set of skills would have sufficed or indeed had sufficient time to master. A good katana user or empty hand striker/kicker would not have needed or indeed saw the need to learn anything else, because regardless of who he met or fought, he would have just did what he was very good at and win the fight. There was no, yea, learn stand-up to meet other stand-ups and grappling to handle the odd grappler one might encounter while going to the market.

Therefore the emphasis then was weapons training and empty-handed fighting was a last resort. Now that the carrying of live weapons is under general restriction, empty-hand combat training is the norm or emphasized and so the arguments about "inadeguacy" or "short-comings" enter the discussion.

Certainly given the time and opportunity and masters willing to share a life-time of study, it can only be a plus to cross-train in as many ranges/systems of combat as one can, if not for personal development, then perhaps for bragging rights, because the chances these days of actually using those skills for survival are very low. I carried my "diary" and sometimes the 'kerambit' for well over 25/30 years and not once did I need to call on their services. Perhaps I was just born lucky. If I had met a grappler then out to do me harm, I wouldn't have acted in a politically correct manner. But then if you thought about it, why would the grappler wanted to grapple if he was out to do me serious harm, just so he could see me tap out in order to humiliate me and my stand-up skills infront of by-standing strangers?
_________________________
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

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#388836 - 03/29/08 11:53 PM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Victor Smith]
student_of_life Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 1032
Loc: Newfoundland, Canada
victor, with your use of the english langage im convinced that you could light me on fire and then go on to explain why it's ok and i would be convinced it was the right thing to do.

as always, very well put.
_________________________
its not supposed to make sense

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#388837 - 03/30/08 12:01 AM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: Ed_Morris]
ButterflyPalm Offline
Enigma

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia
Quote:

So if 'karaoke' means "songs without voice"




I thought 'karaoke' meant 'kara' = without/empty-of, and 'oke' = short for orchestra, and so karaoke means "singing without an orchestra"?
_________________________
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

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#388838 - 03/30/08 12:36 AM Re: What is Kata/Karate Missing? [Re: ButterflyPalm]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
you have the correct translation of the parts, but the wrong interpretation. karaoke refers to a music track absent of the voice track.

when someone sings TO karaoke, they are using their own voice and dubbing on top of the instrumental-only version (a song without the artists voice=karaoke).

a song with the artists voice removed is intended so anyone can replace it with their own voice.


see the potential double-meaning with making it 'Kara-te'? eg. Substituting the 'China' influence, with a Japanese one.



we all want a more profound meaning to the word 'kara', but before 1935...'kara' in this case was just the kanji for 'China'.

"Chinese influenced Okinawan hand" is 'Karate'.

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