Why and How Classical Karate Came to Be
The very first move of Karate, as taken from the first Heian or Pinan form, is a low block to the side. But Karate was not built for blocking. Yes, there are blocks in the art, and it can be adapted to blocking and striking methods easily, but it was not designed for blocking.
Karate was designed for Okinawan imperial bodyguards to guard their king. These bodyguards were supposed to use their art in a room filled with warriors from different nations. Warriors who would have different weapons and methods of fighting, while the Okinawans had no weapons.
Thus, would you execute a high block to samurai sword? Would you try to chop a bullet out of the air? Because these were the real weapons that the bodyguards had to consider in their job.
Consider also that the first command an officer might give his troops, if they were to attempt to abscond with the king of Okinawa, would be to restrain the bodyguards. This means that samurai would step forward and grab forearms, perhaps preparatory to tying the hands of the bodyguards, or merely moving them from the room, or otherwise containing them. And this means that the first defense of the bodyguards, as described by low block in the first form, would be to step forth, dropping the weight and arm, thus escaping from the technique, and head butting those who tried to restrain them.
That’s right, an escape from a grab, then a quick step to close with and punch or push the offending soldier. This would cause chaos. This would allow the king to be removed safely from the throne room.
Look at the form. This is the only way that first move makes sense. And this establishes the whole tenor of the art.
If the samurai drew a sword, the bodyguard had to close with that samurai. This is the reason for the big steps in the form, to enable the bodyguards to get past the distance of swords. This explains the moves of forms that, otherwise, wouldn’t make much sense.
If a samurai attempted to grab, charge into them, then push them. This is the secret of the first move, and this is how the art was built to work. Thinking about the techniques in this way reveals an art that is true, but you are going to have to put aside the way you were first instructed, and take further steps down this path if you are going to discover the true art of karate.
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