Rants, Ramblings and Nothingness

A messy collection of random stuff really!!

Karate Rants – Part One

First post after so long 🙂 Ok, let’s go down to the business right away. I’m going to more than one dojo to train karate and I would like to talk about one particular dojo that I always go at least once a week. First of all, the atmosphere is good there, people are friendly, a lot of friends are there, the facility is top notch with all the training equipments, basically all looks good except for a few flaws that I find very bothersome.

First of all, the practitioners age range are varied between 10-50 for the beginners. I’m not against sports kumite for people that enjoy doing it or for people going to tournaments.  But if the dojo teaches sports kumite regularly while 95% of the people practicing on a particular day aren’t going for tournament, and although they might enjoy the training and find it beneficial for their health, I find it very worrysome that instructors put a lot of emphasis on this regulary in the class. A lot of the practitioners are salarymen, students looking for activity and middle-aged parents. One of the reason why they choose karate must be the martial part of it, the self defense. Although self defense might not be the main reason why they do karate, but it’s must be one of the benefit they find useful. Every week they train once or twice, doing some drills on sports kumite during one part of the training. But unknowingly, they are training for a sports event that they won’t event participate in their whole life, not a self defense drill/techniques that they can use on the street outside the safe dojo!!!

The problem itself is not really the dojo’s fault, but the emphasis came from Japan itself, and the local instructors in all countries following it blindly without thinking. Japan is like a bible for them, they follow it without thinking and consider it to be a source of truth. Then this truth is being propagated to the practitioners everywhere. They believe what the instructors said that sports kumite is the ultimate self defense since they saw it’s beautiful form works in the dojo. Hopefully they don’t get to use it outside the dojo, or they will find themself lying on the ground and then start questioning why a black belt can be easily trumped by people with no training.

Sports kumite is designed to be a safe playground to a game of karate. For me, I don’t see any karate techniques in sports kumite. The footwork is not karate footwork, there’s no shuri ashi, yori ashi or tai sabaki from the katas we know. It might look the same, but the body mechanics are different. The gyaku tsuki and kisame tsuki with a low faux-zenkutsu dachi are hybrid techniques. No where in kata we do gyaku tsuki and kisame on zenkutsu dachi with the rear leg being lifted up. These technique is taken from boxing and the result is the hybrid technique. But again, none of the body mechanics in the kata are found here and none of the boxing body mechanics are also found here. Pulling punches are also one of the problem, some practitioners doesn’t even realized that unless they know why they pull the punches and only train rigorously on pulling the punches as fast as possible will make their fist harmless on the street. As for mawashi geri, it’s a good technique really, but again, which kata has mawashi geri? And for me, kicking above our belly button will put us in a very disadvantageous position. I do mawashi geri, but most of the time, it’s only knee/thigh level height.

Ok, maybe the techniques aren’t karate techniques, but some people might argue that it’s working on the street. Unless you’re an elite performer, I don’t think you will be able to survive on the street pulling punches, kicking high to the head, and bouncing around. I did sports kumite before, and I came to realized that its advantages can’t compensate its disadvantages if you’re looking to defend yourself unless you know that running is the best defense in the world. It’s very good if instructors can separate this kind of training from the regular classes, then more people can benefit from the training itself rather than just from the health point of view. Sports kumite has its merit and it’s good to develop the competitive spirit for young people, but I don’t find it useful for older people at all. I still have another rant about the way some dojo teach kata, but I will leave it for another writing(at least I will have another topic in mind ^^).


October 15, 2008 - Posted by | Karate, Martial Arts, Ramblings | , , ,


  1. We agree 100% that why we decided to go to Goshin Karate & Judo Academy

    Goshin post the flyer of the local tournaments in the school. They just don’t require their students to partisipate in them.

    They are NOT a tournament school… They believe the practice of martial arts and self defense brings far greater rewards than the ones that can be found by focusing on trophies and Tournaments.

    They see Karate as a discipline, not a sport.

    I found this on the front page of their website.

    “The ultimate goal of the Art of Karate is not in victory or defeat, but rather in the perfection of the character of its participants”, Gichin Funakoshi, Father of Modern Karate


    Comment by Your Neighbor | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. I agree, karate as a sport is very hard to judge. It was never meant to be a sport, it was a matter of live and death back then. Today, aside from its martial value, the cultivation of our mind, spirit and body is also very important. Thanks for visiting My Neighbor 🙂

    Comment by fuermischung | October 16, 2008 | Reply

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