You know, Karate sometimes gets a bad rap these days. You see all the MMA guys trashing their opponents, and you wonder why, if Karate is so good, you don’t see it in the octagon. The reason, of course, is the problem with Classical Karate training methods.
In traditional karate classes students are lined up in a mass, and they kick and punch and do everything as one unit. This is fine, for beginners. The sad fact, however, is that one rapidly travels through being a beginner, and then needs to have a different teaching method.
Class exercises are fine to warm up, but there is no real exchange of information going on between teacher and student. Oh, you think that everything is in the forms, that you just need to do the forms and enlightenment will burst upon you? Well, true to a certain extent, but there is also the fact that if you hold to this opinion too hard you are saying that karate is for stupid people.
Oh, I’m serious. Look, Karate, be it goju or shotokan or uechi ryu or whatever, depends on physics. And, once a person has mastered the first set of physics, there is a second set of physics pertinent to the mind and the spirit. But, because of antiquated training methods, methods that were used to control unruly children (not teach them) nobody in the martial arts really knows what the second set of physics is.
Let me take one point and blow it up a bit. I had a student who had the most terrible form, and he had taken a year of classical martial arts training. He was terrible, but-smile in the eyes of his teachers-he was rigid.
So his shoulders overextended, his body was always turned the wrong way, his punches wouldn’t hurt a six year old girl, but he was deemed good because he was rigid. All his muscles locked into place at the execution of technique. And, you can see this same tendency on any number of youtube Karate videos.
Now, one of the first rules of combat is, ‘a sitting duck is a dead duck.’ Heck, the reason that bully told you to stand still and face him was because he wanted a stationary target. And this goes against the real karate somebody would learn if they could get past the rigid, no information instruction that is offered in nearly every karate class in the world.
Real Karate is liquid, and the focus points are so short they can’t be perceived, and the karateka is able to move in any direction without preparation or telegraphing. True Karate is like a whip, and only the fist tightens, and that momentarily when it smacks through some fool’s face. Karate is a study in motion, not in rigidity, and that is just one of the problems with Classical Karate Training.
If you want to see some excellent karate, check out my Temple Karate DVDs. I’m old, I’ve been doing classical karate for over forty years, but I’ve still got some liquid left in me. There are eleven forms, with TONS of self defense applications.