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#294072 - 10/15/06 08:13 PM Karate 'styles'
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
In connection/continuation with this thread:
'Cross-training' thread

we were discussing the wisdom/gain/pitfalls of drawing from other styles to better understand our own. An interesting thing to realize, from what I can see, is that the notion of 'styles' in karate only came into play for three main reasons:
1. To be accepted as a 'Ryu' into Japan's Budo Art structure.
2. To denote the teaching method, and-or slight differing of fighting strategy/principles/interpretation.
3. Politics.

#1 & #3 can be discarded as 'non-technical' reasons that aren't associated with the Art itself. The slightness of differences between styles can best be illustrated by giving just a small sample of their own translated words:


Miyagi: “It is believed that karate-do has two separate sects: Shorin-ryu and Shorei-ryu. However there is no clear evidence that support or deny this fact. If I was forced to distinguish the differences between these two sects, then I would have to say that it is only the teaching methods that divides them.”


There is no place in contemporary Karate-do for different schools. Some instructors, I know, claim to have invented new and unusual kata, andso they arrogate to themselves the right to be called founders of "schools". Indeed, I have heard myself and my colleagues referred to as the Shoto-kan school, but I strongly object to this attempt at classification. My belief is that all these "schools" should be amalgamated into one so that Karate-do may pursue and orderly and useful progress into man's future.
- Gichin Funakoshi.
"My Way of Life"


Mabuni: “There are no styles of karate-do, just varying interpretations of its principles…People seem to place too much emphasis upon this style or that style, this teacher or that teacher, winning and losing.”


“According to Taketo Nakamura, Shigeru Nakamura, the founder of Okinawa Kenpo, disliked the thought of karate being divided into separate styles.” (Bishop)

"When Chojun Miyagi was young, he visited karate masters of other styles such as Anko Itosu and Chotoku Kyan. In those days, there were no Ryu or names of karate styles, so karate masters from various styles gathered together and held a meeting called "Bu No Hyoji" (= a forum on martial arts?). At the meeting, they talked about karate techniques, read a Ryuka (= an Okinawan poem) aloud and drank Sake (= an alcoholic drink made from rice). It was something like a friendly party."

and perhaps putting it best, which could apply to any Martial Art group just as well:

A Jeet Kune Do man who says Jeet Kune Do is exclusively Jeet Kune Do is simply not with it. He is still hung up on his self-closing resistance, in this case anchored down to reactionary pattern, and naturally is still bound by another modified pattern and can move within its limits. He has not digested the simple fact that truth exists outside all molds; pattern and awareness is never exclusive.
Again let me remind you Jeet Kune Do is just a name used, a boat to get one across, and once across it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back.
-Bruce Lee

also for reference:
"Grasping Budo By More Than One Corner" - Christopher Caile

imagine for a second that there were no 'styles'. with those imaginary lines gone, would there even be a need for such an idea as 'cross-training' ?

what happened to the 'Bu No Hyoji' ?

#294073 - 10/15/06 08:47 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ed_Morris]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Ed:

Time for the Sunday night "support" session. What is
'Bu No Hyoji' ? (And should I be worried that I don't recognize the phrase )


#294074 - 10/15/06 08:54 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ronin1966]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
read the quotes again, and this time pay attention to detail.

#294075 - 10/16/06 12:07 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ed_Morris]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Good thread, Ed. I have been a believer for some time now that "styles" only exist for political or competition reasons. Other than that, there are only so many ways to hit or twist the human body.
"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

#294076 - 10/16/06 01:24 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ed_Morris]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
Maybe back then, but now its been driven in stone by the interpetations, so styles now exist.

I've seen how styles can trap you with the good or bad of its practice zone. It is an interpetation of perferred methods and these methods can build upon their strong points and sink you trapped in its weak points. Please don't start that stuff that PURE KARATRE is Perfect.

Anyway having cross trained and witnessing different styles at there best and worst. Trained well styles can strengthen you but trained closed minded they can trap you into trying force their methods (not techniques the when, where and how, techniques are pretty much the same almost) to work. As my wife's son trained in TKD was attacked in cleets and slipped attempting a high kick and they had to pull the guy off him. Or a guy beaten pretty baddly, not able to adapt to continous assault of real fighting, he seemed to use a tournament style.

I've also seen Kenpo guys out kicked or out punched and TKD guys out punched or out kicked because they were trained in a set style and were not able to adapt to the timing and distance of another system.

I've seen Kung-fu & Silat guys beaten standing but fighting from the ground continuously knock the wind out of or drop their sparring partner.

Or the continuous hands or kick of the Kung-fu/Silat overwheam a one punch artist. I've also seen the opposite a One punch striker blow away a Kung-fu/Kali practictioner.

Styles exist we have to learn to make them work and adapt them to any or most situations. Sorta like JKD in thought but with structure and a better idea of what we are trying to perfect, though we never will. There is no perfect fighting system/Karate or otherwise.

A Styles/interpetations can trap/limit you to its method, especially if you think its perfect or the best. Though it maybe the best for you.

Edited by Neko456 (10/16/06 01:27 PM)

#294077 - 10/16/06 07:51 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ed_Morris]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
I agree with your points Ed, as you know I generally only see 2 schools of thought, shorin and shorei in relation to Okinawan Karate, as starting points up the same mountain anyhow.

however im pretty sure if we go back in time that family traditions/schools would just be other words for 'styles', or as I prefer to call them - systems.

It seems that we have a desire to protect whats 'ours' and often to prove 'ours' is better than the next villages.......LOL,

I guess in the modern world its alot to do with money whereas before pride would have been a major factor.
Jim Neeter

#294078 - 10/16/06 08:27 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: shoshinkan]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

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

It seems that we have a desire to protect whats 'ours' and often to prove 'ours' is better than the next villages.......LOL,

I think that pretty well hits the nail on the head.


#294079 - 10/16/06 09:47 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: butterfly]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Sounds like the NFL.

#294080 - 10/16/06 10:05 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: shoshinkan]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
thats true. but what fun would it be if everyone just let people do what they do without nudging us to wake up and smell the beans?

I'll say one thing, from the way people describe their Art of choice on forums, it would seem everyone is doing exactly the right thing....'right' for what purpose is not always clear.

I stopped calling what I do 'self-defense', since it's not completely honest. SD is a by-product of my study and not a comprehensive focus. I realize not everyone has those priorities...but thats the direction I choose: exploring the Art thru kata while making asumptions about it's intended purpose.

A 'system' could have 1 technique: 'curling into a ball if attacked' - is that a comprehensive 'self-defense system'? I suppose some would argue it, but the limiting flaws are obvious since it only addresses one strategy for a particular circumstance (perhaps the best response when surrounded by an overwhelming number of weaponless opponents, right after being splashed in the face with hot oil? lol).

a style or system meets it's goals when it's assumptions are correct and as contingentcy planned as possible. If my goal is self-defense, then going about doing that thru kata seems not the best way in this day and age...especially given the limited time per day I can devote to it. If my goal is to understand kata with the assumption kata was used as a training device toward SD... then the focus is not self-defense, but instead the focus is a study of kata using my assumptions.

Karate styles (kata and non-kata based) seem to boil down to training to a custom set of assumptions.

there are some assumptions that are so wildly incompatable, that using them, or force-fitting them no longer remains a study of that intended system. thats when my criticism of it kicks in.

am I right? who knows, but like I'd be a boring place if nobody spoke their mind.

#294081 - 10/16/06 10:23 PM Re: Karate 'styles' [Re: Ed_Morris]
yamaguchi Offline

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 32
Loc: mississauga, Ontario, Canada
although this is an interesting statement that what would it be like with no style. i believe that different styles exsist because different people interpreted and took different things from what they learned, they took what they liked and threw away what they didnt like thats why there are different styles now, back in the olden days it wasnt about what someone liked it was about what is going to save there life, but now adays we have the luxury of going to an art that fits ourself and our personal needs. although i think maybe having no different styles might be a good idea, the different styles are there for a reason so i will not disagree with the masters that made these styles because their reasons were their own.....just my opinion
"Take the lesson and throw away the experience" -Hanshi Wallace Platt

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