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Wastelander's picture
Is Karate a Grappling Art?

Hello, everyone,

My most recent article just went up, and in it, I discuss the nature of karate as far as its fighting methodologies are concerned.


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Great article Noah! Good points and I fully agree with the sentiments expressed. It also matches what Funakoshi said in Karate-Do Kyohan:

“In karate, hitting, thrusting, and kicking are not the only methods, throwing techniques and pressure against joints are included … all these techniques should be studied referring to basic kata … One must always keep in mind that since the essence of karate is found in a single thrust or kick, and one should never be grasped by or grapple with an opponent, one must be careful not to be defeated through being overly concerned with throwing an opponent or applying a joint punishment hold.”

So karate has grappling, but it’s a back up to the primary methods of striking. I think this reflects the civilian self-protection nature of karate.

All the best,


PS My article on grappling in karate can be found here: http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/article/karate-grappling-did-it-really-exist

JWT's picture

Great stuff from both of you as always Noah and Iain.

My own article on the subject is currently 'down' as I'm in the process of restructuring my blog and so that is 'offline' for the time being (it will be back soon), but in my article I echoed the sentiments with examples from the Bubishi and Funakoshi's texts. I devoted a long chapter to this in Volume Two of the Pinan Flow System.

Ultimately, unless you create specific rulesets to prevent the employment of both striking and grappling to create more of a contest of specific skill sets, if you want to be able to strike in a natural environment you need to account for stand up grappling to be able to do so. If you want to be able to grapple in the same environment you need to have anti-striking strategies and strikes to set up opportunities. It is exceptionally difficult to strike a resisting opponent without engaging in grappling (how often do we see the tactic of grabbing and holding in boxing?) and it is very difficult to throw or control a resisting person without striking (see how many staff it takes to control a person when distraction techniques are not used to reduce the injury rate in and danger to both the person being controlled and the controller). You strike to control and you control to strike.

All the best

John Titchen