There’s a stand-up bit by Joe Rogan where he talks about how if you brought back Thomas Jefferson to the present day he’d be stunned that nothing new was added to the US constitution. It’s quite funny and if you’re a Karate and substitute some of his words, there’s some real wisdom in them.
….because if you could go back in time and grab Itosu Anko and bring him to 2021… his first question would be… “You guys didn’t make any new shit? …..You lazy f?!%s! You guys have phones in your pockets and spaceships! ‘But the wisdom of Karate shall not be adjusted.’ What the f#@k does that even mean? Who told you that, bro?” We always like to say, “The long, great history of the Karate.” Listen, that’s not real. Karate was founded in the 1700s. People live to be a hundred. That’s three people ago. You’re like, “Is he right?” Yeah! The Fear Factor guy just hit you with a f*#king math quiz! Three people ago! (Original transcript).
In other words we should learn from the past but not be bound by it. This is what all the modern founders of Karate did following Itosu’s example. Mabuni, Miyagi, Toyama, Kyoda, and Funakoshi. They all attempted to make Karate fit their era and therefore be relevant to the communities they taught. To quote Funakoshi Gichin from Karate-Do Ichiro: “Times change, the world changes, and obviously the martial arts must change too. The Karate that high school students practice today is not the same Karate that was practiced even as recent as ten years ago, and it is a long way indeed from the Karate I learned when I was a child in Okinawa”.