Karate is not Broken

I haven’t been practicing Karate that long relative to my teachers and mentors, but I’ve been around long enough to see how it’s changed over the decades. 

There have been many of them indeed, almost too many. So I won’t bore you with a list. Cynically I would label these changes as “trends”, or pejoratively as “fads”, but regardless of the label they are indicative of an attitude that somehow Karate is broken; that it is no longer a relevant fighting art and somehow needs to be altered and revitalized in order to have meaning in this day and age. 

Nothing, IMHO, could be further from the truth. Karate is not broken and it doesn’t need you to fix it! It’s done quite well for itself over the last 100 years, emerging as a small, local fighting tradition to spread as a world-wide practice enjoyed by millions. Indeed much of its philosophical essence is intact: humility, respect, and perseverance. As is its physical and mental emphasis on avoiding conflict and and self-protection. 

None of these core principles requires a comprehensive set of applications or two-person drills for all its kata, victory in 100 matches, or a comparison to modern MMA techniques. These miss the point entirely as one only has to read the writings of teachers like Chibana Choshin, Kyoda Juhatsu or others. They emphasized the importance of shaping a person’s character to be a productive member of society. 

In closing, leave Karate alone. Sure it has enough issues already, but it certainly doesn’t need your help. It’s survived this long without you and I’m sure it will be just fine. Karate is not broken, but your understanding of it might be. 

Merry Christmas and all the best for 2016.