THESE ARE THE PERSONAL VIEWS OF HANSHI GIBSON. QUOTES FROM OTHER SOURCES (THIRD PARTIES) HAVE BEEN TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AND USED IN GOOD FAITH FOR THERE ACCURACY. VIEWS EXPRESSED MAY NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF OTHERS WITHIN THE SAMA ORGANISATION, OR REPRESENT THE POLICY OR CRITERIA OF THE SAMA ORGANISATION. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE THE RESULT OF HANSHI'S 55 YEARS INVOLVMENT WITHIN THE MARTIAL ARTS AND ARE ONLY INTENDED AS FOOD FOR THOUGHT
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Is traditional Karate becoming a thing of the past?
traditional Karate loosing it's identity to sport karate?
Is traditional karate becoming a thing of the past?
Unworthy instructors, self promoted masters, self promoted black belts, self promoted instructors. Unworthy associations who take into their membership shabby karate groups to enhance their numbers and profits, along with this is the mass introduction of sport karate are all to blame for the demise of true traditional karate-do
True traditional martial arts achievement is for only those who want to earn it by following the true traditional path of the empty hand way. How can others teach something they know nothing about?
Learning true martial arts should be a new adventure. Never be satisfied with your limits of your success and rise to eminence through even greater success. Never allow your spirit to be satisfied, keep your mind clear and unaffected so that things can be perceived exactly for truth and logic.
I believe that all styles of traditional karate has something to offer - but only if they build character first and the physical person second. There is no one style of karate better than another. Anyone who says, his or her style is the best is very foolish and unwise, for the style does not make the difference. The individual and their training makes the difference.
The person who has a good qualified instructor and trains hard, is going to be better than the person who does not have a good qualified instructor and does not train hard.”
A good dojo will have unity, conformity and stability, it’s students will feel pride and togetherness, yet individuality is always understood. For all of this to happen there must be a disciplined hierarchy of authority, for order, learning, achievement and advancement. But achievement is only awarded to those who earn it.
Being a black belt with it’s rewards brings obligations. If one is a true black belt then they must always strive to set a good example for others and to teach the true meanings of karate-do. Obligations of a black belt are, respect, loyalty and honour, and are owed to their seniors and dojo. For me this is true traditional karate.
Hanshi Gibson 8th Dan
traditional karate loosing its identity to sport karate?
Head of the Warrior School of Japan
Japans top traditional fighting school
speaking about sport karate fighting and real fighting, he quotes!
"If you loose the sport fight you can try again next time.
If you loose here, that is the end"
is sport karate?
Honestly I do not know
what the word "sport karate" is suppose
to relate to.
I wish the powers that
be would change the name to something more appropriate, as they
did for kick boxing which was known at the beginning of it's life
for some idiotic reason as "full contact karate". Call
it combat sport, or touch fighting, anything else
other than "karate".
Please don't get me wrong,
I am not against competition participation altogether.
I believe that it
may have a place in today's sport orientated culture, but the only
good benefit in realistic terms I believe is
for children. Competition or play fighting as I would prefer to
call it can be good healthy discipline fun for children.
Strictly and safely controlled it
should give them a strong sense of achievement, motivation, concentration
and I hope that much needed self-confidence that many children lack. Therefore I feel that
competition is a good thing for children to participate in.
The only problem with children's competition's I have experienced is the lack of understanding that some parents have of it. For example I have been asked why their child is not using their karate blocks to defend themselves. I tell them that they must understand that it is not true karate or any true form of self-defence, they should understand that its only a watered down game of fighting.
There are many rules to safe-guard children from injury as well as making it fun, although
I have noticed that some groups sadly fail to implement these rules, however
to call it "karate" is wrong, for eventually we will loose sight
of what the word "karate" means, its intention and what it encompasses.
karate" is way down the line as a practical fighting sport for adults.
By promoting such a traditional powerful fighting art to adults as a sport is throwing aside it's whole philosophy, it's powerful blocks, it's strong skilful self-defence techniques and all it's traditions is surely sweeping away the true image of karate being a deadly fighting art.
Karate-do (the way of the empty hand) was never intended to be a sport or a game
who compete in karate competitions, especially the winners seem to suffer
from a delusional form of self worship and an over confidence. These so called superstars imagine they have
become indestructible because of winning a trophy or
medal. I have no problem about real athletic sporting competitions and
the winning of trophies or getting a name for oneself, but to say
that "sport karate" competitors are all well tuned physical
fighting athletes is very amusing to me.
If you ever have the chance to go to an adult
competition you'll see many overweight and very unfit people with little or no fighting ability.
Many referee's look like they have just come from a pork pie
Most referee's are senior instructors
within their own clubs although one would not think so to look at
them. Usually it's someone not very fit or good physically at karate usually goes into refereeing.
official and important in their blazer and gray flannel trousers wearing their association
tie and badge I usually find that these people are usually has-been's or have never-been's trying to hang on to some power and authority.
Clearly, many do this purely for recognition within
their own club, to impress students especially the younger
ones in saying, look at me, although I may be useless at karate, am I not an important person within the karate world. They have to pursue this position, because it's their
little niche, rubbing shoulders with top people so they can boast to
others about who they know.
A great karate
master once said "One should be proud and always aspire to
be in the mould of your instructor". Well looking at some of these
porkers makes me wonder why their students would want to aspire to anyone
who are either fat, useless at karate or unfit.
fiasco of adult competitions with it's refereeing errors,
it's rules, it's system of scoring, it's lack of technique, contact,
and realism is not doing karate any favors.
For the public to see black belts loosing
fights to lower grades clearly shatters the belief of the deadly black belt image. It is sending the wrong message
out and the wrong impression about the skills
and strengths of what a true karate black belt should stand for.
Before the promotion of
competitions, achieving a black belt meant something, something
that took many long years of blood sweat and tears to achieve and something
to be proud of. In showing such poor standards in the name of such
a powerful fighting art these competitions
tarnish all that is good about the art and the problem is many
who enter competitions seem totally oblivious or don't care to this fact.
Unlike many true challenging
sports, "sport karate" is totally false in its awards.
Lets take into account the overall structure of "sport karate" lack of contact,
lack of techniques and lack of realism. Clearly it must be way down the line as a
practical and effective fighting sport. Thai boxing, boxing, kick boxing, ultimate
fighting, cage or K1 fighting are much more practical in terms of learning
about contact, fitness, strength, hardness, aggression and as a fighting
sport goes, much more realistic in it's approach, methods of training and
more exciting to watch.
it was a real fight, many of these winners and champions would be dead meat.
Throughout my 50 years
in karate I have witnessed many examples of the true nature of the
beast of "sport karate". One example: A weedy looking guy won a match over
someone I knew to be a former boxer who weighed around 14 stone. The
little guy's tactics was to throw a single punch and then run. The refereeing
as usual was very bad, scoring the little guys although very fast
but totally weak punches, even giving him a point when he actually
tripped and on his way down he stuck out his hand touched his opponents jacket. Well after that fiasco
it made me wonder what is this all about.
I have witnessed these type of scenarios many times, the over weight pasty faced guy who sits all day in an office actually
beating an opponent who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger all because
he was faster to the "touch", and I do mean touch, scoring
the winning point that was not effective
or practical to hurt or stop anyone in a real fight. The facts are that many a winning
point at competitions only lightly touch their opponent. What amuses
me is the way they come away celebrating with the impression of thinking that they have actually beat their opponent for real.
They seem to never take on board
the reality that it's a watered down game and not real fighting. If it was a real fight many of these so called
winners and champions would be dead meat in seconds.
karate has rewritten the rule book
to such a deadly fighting art.
By taking away many deadly techniques from traditional karate, "sport karate"
has rewritten the rule book.
Lets look closely at an adult competition:
Fighting is usually fought
on a sponge matted area in a large open space. It's a one
to one fight, fighters usually fight in the same weight category,
competitors know they have to play by the rules or loose points.
If a fight gets a bit
rough, or if you fall on the floor competitors understand that they
are completely safe as the referee will quickly stop the fight giving
them a chance to get up and restart the fight. Unlike the old days
of competition there is hardly any or no contact at all involved. Winning is mostly done with a single punch or if you are lucky a kick. Contact and real combat techniques have been fully stripped away, i.e.
no hooks, uppercuts, spinning fists, open hand strikes,
low kicks, ground fighting, butting, chokes, grabbing, pushing,
holding, biting, or throwing etc. Taking these techniques away is taking
away karate itself.
it more realistic.
If adults really wish to spar
(or play at fighting) then I say keep it in the dojo.
However, please make it a bit more realistic
than what we see at competitions.
There are lots of ways to enhance
sparring such as 2 or 3 onto 1, or try incorporating full contact
with boxing gloves to feel being hit for real as this will take away the fear and will make you react faster. Use knees and elbows, wrestle, use chokes and locks, all slightly controlled of course. Make
it rough by grabbing and pulling, fight continuously longer for stamina
even to the last man standing. Most importantly the instructor must
explain fully to their students that this is only a form of training
and what the difference might be in a real fight. Students must understand
the various situations that they could find themselves in, such
as fighting in an enclosed or small space, being aware of obstacles
around you, fighting more that one person, the difference against weapons etc. The importance of strength, the difference
of wrestling strength stamina to aerobic stamina, the need of explosive
power, endurance, aggression, mental hardness and finally strategy and skill.
A Japanese master once
told me, "knowledge (skill, technique) is power, but
understand, it will only give you power if you have the
ability to use it".
Many "sport karate"
competitors would not be interested in this sort of training
as it would certainly be to hard for them. Also
they might get hurt, beat up or knackered which would certainly affect their
image and would burst their little bubble.
watching paint dry. That's why there are no big sponsors, televised or media interest.
karate groups today competitions have become the main purpose and reason
for training. Many clubs only concentrate towards the
winning aspect of competitions. I know of certain groups who award students
grades in line with their success in competitions.
However I have to state
that there are a very small minority of hard core traditional karate
people that have entered competitions who are well respected,
but hopefully this still should not distract one from the truth. Of course some competitors
may be athletic which is very commendable, however it certainly does not automatically give them that true
martial spirit or ability for real combat.
Unlike boxing or kick boxing or any
other exciting sport where constant contact action is involved,
where opponents are trying hard to knock one another out. "Sport
karate's" main scoring technique is usually a single controlled
punch called "gyaku-zuki", where competitors dance around
for ages before eventually deciding to use it. This is for me and I would
think for most people in the street is like watching paint dry.
That's why there are no big sponsors, televised or media interest in these competitions, and also why adult competitions are mostly
only spectacled by it's own competitors, class students or families
of the competitors.
What is a British karate champion? Is it someone who can beat the living daylights out of every
karate person in Britain?
It's most unfortunate
that clubs who participate mostly in competition, contrive to indoctrinate
many of their students, especially the younger ones into a false
sense of security, image, glamour and fame. For those who believe
it all are truly sucked into a false vacuum. These clubs are always
trying to boost their image by proclaiming
how many karate champions and trophies they have, "look at us they smugly say,
"we have a British karate champion" , surely we must be the best club with the best students.
Would someone please explain to me what a British karate champion
is? Is it someone who can beat the living daylights out of every
karate person in Britain?
Are they a deadly fighting machine? Are
they someone that should be worshiped by lesser mortals within the
Sorry to bust the bubble, but being a competition karate champion clearly does not make you a super person.
Ticky Donovan the British
team coach once quoted in a karate magazine that "most British
champions could not punch their way out of a wet paper bag".
What does that tell you!
karate" could be inhibiting!
I believe that "Sport
karate" could implant dangerous way of thinking.
I remember a long time ago reading about the death of a British
The papers said he was foolish enough to think just because he was the British karate champion that he was
able to take on a knife wielding thug, unfortunately it led to him being stabbed
to death. Being obsessed with competitions and
lacking any realistic self-defence training made it hard for him to separate competition fighting from reality. A very
dangerous way of thinking which I believe was the mistake that finally cost his life. For being accustomed to fighting within a
totally safe environment with safety rules, regulations and having
the St. John's ambulance people on the side ready to rush in if anyone got a knock I am sure can over a period of
time create a false illusion. I
really believe that many who are infatuated
with "sport karate" have lost the plot, in that they believe that
by winning a trophy or having a championship name makes them invincible.
and reinforced over time through "sport karate"can be extremely inhibiting.
Being taught to pull punches
and kicks is one of the fundamental problems of "sport karate".
Many karate groups have forgotten the true purpose of karate and the words
of it's founder masters.
Is it not sad that
many karate groups have forgotten the purpose of karate, students of karate should continually strive
to train for real life combat, especially for dangerous situations
and not be distracted or restricted in anyway from focusing on this.
The founder masters of karate, such
as Gichen Funakoshi, Chojun Miyagi and Kenwa Mabuni viewed "sport
karate" (referring to adults in their day when sparring was
with no rules, very brutal and very realistic) "as fairly insignificant,
a thing to get over with as soon as possible so the student's real
career in karate could begin". If they were depressed of the
state of karate then, then what would they think of the present
state of karate. They would be surely horrified.
Words by the late great karate legend,
Enoeda sensei, is something that should be taken on board by all participants of sport karate
"the real discipline of karate will be destroyed and it will become just another sport"
fundamental that karate should be practiced in the true spirit
of the martial arts. "Sports karate" is a recent development
of this ancient art and it should not form a predominant part of
the true karate ka outlook.
can have its detractions. With sport karate, formerly the emphasis
was on keeping a strong controlled technique, but now it is more
on match-winning techniques, lessening the importance attached to
the need for good solid blocking.
is a pity. I believe that we must still employ powerful techniques
because if we do not and think only in terms of competition, the
result will be that the real discipline of karate will be destroyed
and it will become just another sport.
for someone committed to competition within the larger context of
practicing karate, it is vital to work hard at basics in order to
develop later a strong and correct fighting technique.
There must be hard training and commitment".
karate in the Olympics. Will we eventually loose sight of karate's
The rush to sell the farm and gamble everything on the Olympics
is not a good thing as many believe it's not really a good spectator
sport. I also believe it will last no longer as a traditional art
as Judo did after it was introduced as an Olympic sport during the
1964 games in Tokyo. Will the general public
end up establishing a completely false impression of what true karate
is all about and eventually loose sight of it's identity. One thing is clear, the image of karate in the Olympics is not going to be what most of the
general public expect it to be, for I suspect their vision will be of a Claude Van Dam or Jet Li fighting scene , well their in
for a big surprise.
of the future? who knows.
With the old debate that "sport
karate" may enter the Olympics and what of the future of
traditional karate? who knows.