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Thomas's picture
Confirmations About Karate

hello hello everyone, before i truly dive into karate training, there is something i need confirmation on. according to karate tradition, was karate an individualized art? individualized in karate means, i should make my own kata applications in order to make my own combat style right?

is there any hidden application for stepping in kata? in chinese martial arts, steps are kicks. does the same apply to karate kata?

ky0han's picture

Hi Thomas,

Karate was and should be an individual martial art. That means the past masters tought their students according to their physical preconditions. They maybe altered a kata (e.g. Passai) for each student slightly due to the different preconditions. I think the past masters tought their students the application in the same fashion and encouraged them to find their own applications too. What works for men does not necessarily work for women and vice versa.

In terms of gaining proficiency in the chosen field there are two ways to consider in my opinion. The first thing is that you take an application or a method and make it your own. That requires a lot of practice. You should train that method until you can pull it of under any circumstances.

The second thing is that you alter a method according to your own preferences were you know that it works. But it requires a lot of experiences to know what works and what not.

I think there is a progression were you start with the first and later try the second.

Hidden applications in stepping? That is nothing I am aware of. Steps are just there to move the body into the technique. Kicks are kicks and they occur in kata. No need to hide them.

Regards Holger

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

From a shotokan style perspective I would say look at:

Turns/mawatte as throws

Mizazuki Geri/Cresent Kick  as throws or stamping leg kicks or roundhouse kicks

Kiba Dachi can indicate dropping your own body weight, so maybe a throw again.

So in Bassai Dai there is a sequence of Cresent kick land in KIba Dachi and do a "low block" - That can be translated as a hidden shoulder throw.

Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

I figure that you have to stand on one leg to step, so why not kick? On a similar note, you have to put your foot down somewhere, why not on top of your opponent's foot?

Bob Orlando teaches a variety of leg techniques "built into" his Silat/Kuntao stepping and stances. I do them in my Karate applications.

I don't know if Karate's past masters ever intended any of these things, but there they are nonetheless.

Jack Fullerton
Jack Fullerton's picture

In our dojo we train in stylised Shotokan, typical to many of the Shotokan orginisations. We build the basic techniques as a solid foundation, then at the intermediate levels we start to add the implications of each technique, the principles of the kata, then we encourage the individual to come up with their own implications. After they come up with their own implications, we start to test them to see if they are realistically applicable. The reason I call them implications is that a technique can imply many applications, from what you learn from others to what you can come up with.

Thomas's picture

thanks for the responses. historically, the closed fist movements in the katas were actually open handed movements right? for example, the low block can be an open hand chop right? i ask this since im looking for striking in katas, and i have to follow karate traditions. i like karate as karate the art. my interest is deeper than combat.

Harry Mord
Harry Mord's picture

Thomas wrote:

historically, the closed fist movements in the katas were actually open handed movements

I've heard that in several places but is there actually any real evidence that that was the case for all kata? I know that earlier versions of sanchin used open hands that were changed to fists (for a reason related to kiko) but is there similar evidence for any of the other kata?

Kevin73's picture

Styles like Uechi ryu maintain only open handed strikes or a specialty fist.  Only their first kata created for beginners uses a seiken fist.  Compare that to the Goju ryu katas of the same name/source and you will see differences in their approach.  Then look at the other cousin/sibling To'on ryu and look at the differences.  You have Goju/To'on that had the same teacher, but differences based on their students (Juhatsu-To'on & Miyagi-Goju).  Then you have Uechi/Goju which supposedly have the same chinese source, but differ.  Each one made changes based on their approach to self-defense and what they wanted to emphasize.

As to closed/open fist strikes in the katas no one knows for sure what the "originals" were for many of the older kata.  There are some styles that haven't changed much, for example, Zenpo Shimabuku, teaches Shorin-Ryu as he learned it from his father, who learned it directly from Chotoku Kyan.  Some instructors under Chosin Chibana teach as they learned under him, who learned directly from Itosu.  So we can go back to some of the early sources and know how they taught, but if they made any changes from how/what they learned we don't know (for example, the changes made by Matsumura).

shoshinkanuk's picture

I would say to this -

according to karate tradition, was karate an individualized art?

yes, and no.

It would seem that students (albeit in very small groups, later they became larger) in mainstream karate practice all pretty much learnt the same foundation, and indeed mid level studies.

However im pretty sure individuals were taught some different 'elements' in terms of say Bunkai, as needed - but mainstream karate didn't focus on Bunkai, it focused on phsical excersise, character development, power development, sport and demonstrations etc etc - karatedo if you like.

However, higher level students would come to a point where they would be granted, or indeed just leave their Masters 'direct' teaching, and then develop there own thing - this may be similair or very different to their original arts.

This happens also to a smaller degree when a new Headmaster takes over a Ryu.

Then comes the question of preservation, or self protection - a whole balancing act happens, and it is indeed different for each long term student.

I take an equal view of preservation and self protection in my approach to our Ryu, and that seems to work well most of the time but it can be difficult to keep perspective.