In this video we look at some karate gripping, including bunkai from Gojushiho, Chinte and Gankaku / Chinto. Although the grappling side of karate is not as widely practised as it once was, it is once considered to be a fundamental part of the art. Indeed it is impossible to understand the nature of kata without understanding the grappling methods contained within them.
In the 1935 book “Karate-Do Kyohan” Gichin Funakoshi – who is often referred to as “The Father of Modern Karate” – wrote “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”.
There is no doubt these locks and throws fell out of favour though and concern about with was expressed by Kenwa Mabuni (founder of Shito-Ryu Karate) in 1938:
“The karate that has been introduced to Tokyo is actually just a part of the whole. The fact that those who have learnt karate there feel it only consists of kicks & punches, and that throws & locks are only to be found in judo or jujutsu, can only be put down to a lack of understanding … Those who are thinking of the future of karate should have an open mind and strive to study the complete art.”
Sadly Mabuni’s warning fell on deaf ears and grapping did indeed fall out of favour as karate evolved into a “partial art”. However, the grappling methods were apparent in the kata and recorded in the writings of the past masters. Even in the 1960s and 1970s we see people being encouraged to go back to a more holistic and traditional form of karate.
Shigeru Egami, in his 1975 book “The Heart of Karate-do” wrote about the neglect of karate's grappling methods. Egami wrote, “There are also throwing techniques in karate… Throwing techniques were practised in my day, and I recommend that you reconsider them”. Another relatively recent book that makes reference to karate grappling is H.D. Plee's 1967 book “Karate: Beginner to Black Belt”. In the book, Plee – who was one of the pioneers of karate in Europe – wrote "One must not lose sight of the fact that karate is "all-in" fighting. Everything is allowed … This is why karate is based on blows delivered with the hand, the foot, the head or the knee. Equally permissible are strangulations, throwing techniques and locks.”
It seems that the time is now right for a return to the karate of the past. More and more people are seeing the many benefits of returning to a more holistic version of karate. The older version is more logical, effective and satisfying to practice.
Of course, online videos are no substitute for hands on instruction. It also needs to be remembered that a short video can’t capture the totality of a full day of training. Nevertheless I hope this short clip if of interest and encourages people of find out more.
All the best,
NOTE: These methods are potentially dangerous and must only be practised under the supervision of a suitably qualified and experienced person.
PS The YouTube link can be found HERE