Karate in Japan

Discussion in 'Japanese Martial Arts - General' started by Nobufusa, Jan 3, 2021.

  1. Nobufusa

    Nobufusa Yellow Belt

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    Why did Karate become so popular in Japan? Did Japan not have well developed striking and kicking arts prior to the introduction of Karate from Okinawa?
     
  2. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    Thats a loaded question. I know you didn't intend it to be.
    In the 1930's the Japanese government saw karate as a method to instill fitness and indoctrination to help the future war effort. They embedded Nationalism and loyalty to the Emperor and Country into karate. They made it part of the standard school curriculum. It was a requirement for every school child until after the war. When WWII ended the Japanese requested that certain arts be allowed to be practiced under the conditions of their surrender agreement. As a requirement they needed to remove all aspects of National Fascism and make it a sport. They did so and the art carried on. The popularity and student base was already built.
     
  3. Nobufusa

    Nobufusa Yellow Belt

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    I find it odd that they would use an Okinawan art as a medium for Japanese nationalism.
     
  4. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    As to the second part of your question. No Japan did not have a well established striking art. Japanese history is filled with civil war. Real war is fought with weapons thus the preoccupation of fighting arts revolved around weapons armor. Striking doesn't work well when your wearing armor. Its far more effective to unbalance your opponents and as they fumble on the ground like an upside-down turtle you kill them with a knife or sword.
     
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  5. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    The Japanese were and are big on rules, protocol and tradition. It was easier to bend and mold karate from Okinawa than a well established art that had existed on the main land. Also karate was well known for using exercise and weight training. It was a good fit for their aims
     
  6. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    They did it by changing it into a Japanese art (cultural appropriation in modern PC terms.)

    First, the name was changed from Okinawan "toude" meaning "Chinese hands" to the Japanese name, "karate", though still referring to "Chinese hands."

    Then, with the rise of Japanese nationalism and looking at China as a possible target, the kanji pictograph for karate was changed to mean "empty hands." So now the word "karate" had all non-Japanese references wiped.

    When Funakoshi Gichin saw an opportunity to spread karate to Japan, he understood it had to be "Japanized" to be accepted. So while he may not have liked it, he went along with the program. He further changed the name of the katas to Japanese versions (naihanchi > tekki; kusanku >kanku, for example.)

    The art itself was also changed to be widely accepted into the school system. It was simplified, made less dangerous, and became more regimented. This regimen was put into manuals and became codified so all Japanese students would be doing the same things in more or less the same way. All of these things made karate less Okinawan in Japan. Conformity is typical of Japanese culture, especially decades ago.

    So, this is how an Okinawan art became a Japanese one. Note: Traditional Okinawan karate is still practiced in Okinawa and around the world, and in good dojos, still retains its unique, non-Japanese, identity.
     
  7. stanly stud

    stanly stud Blue Belt

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    PhotoScan_LI.jpg There are examples of a very successful synthisis of Japanese & Okinawan Karate such as Wado Ryu
    I still have a letter from him(Suzuki ) after i had a tel conversation with him about soft & hard schools. Although shotokan had an influence on Wado he said..it´s only with power (shotokan) also Oyama Karate. He was very influenced by the Ju(i) jitsu Shindo yoshin ryu in Wado..the japanese techniques.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  8. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Very correct. As an aside, many look at ninjutsu techniques and talk about them in modern self-defense. They were designed to escape and get away and not to stand around and go toe to toe with someone.

    The Japanese had many jujutsu arts and Kano took them and turned them into Judo so they could be practiced. Western style boxing was also gaining in popularity around the world and the Japanese were exposed to boxing matches. It was very easy to transition Okinawan karate and shape it to be more "Japanese" by changing the names of the katas and also adding in the kendo "ma-ai" (distancing) into the sparring and adding that to the mix to produce their own version.

    As someone else also commented on the military aspect. The military looked at the physiques of Okinawan young men who had practiced karate and wanted to incorporate that into the military training to produce those results. They found that the Naha styles produced those physiques, but took too long and went with the Shuri styles to train the young men. The impact of the Japanese influence is felt throughout all of karate, including Okinawa.

    Much of what we view as "karate training" comes from the Japanese. For example: uniforms, belts, lining up according to rank, performing the kata by a "count", doing it all the same way. The Okinawans did not originally train this way, but incorporated it after karate became so popular in Japan and they started to train US GI's who were used to this military way of doing things.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2021
  9. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Sorry, slight derailment.

    Are you Wado Ryu? I do hope so....best karate style ever.


    Ok, back to topic.
     
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  10. stanly stud

    stanly stud Blue Belt

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    I concentrate on escrima & wing tsun now. Wado is great but i also liked goju ryu very practical. Can see i think some chinese influence in there. They even do stickig Hands practise like we do.
     
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  11. Nobufusa

    Nobufusa Yellow Belt

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    Why is Wado-Ryu the best style? Can you recommend a good style for senior citizens?
     
  12. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    As a senior citizen I can certainly recommend Wado. It has shorter stances and more economy of movement. It just has a harmony and flow I really enjoy. You don't make any .movements just for the sake of it, each movement has a purpose.
     
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  13. stanly stud

    stanly stud Blue Belt

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    yes maximum efficiency ... a great style
     
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  14. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    Yes, there is a strong Chinese influence in goju - originally much open hand and circular (usually tight and close in)technique. Higashionna Kanryo spent a decade in China, studying at the Kojo dojo and with Ryu Ru Ko (Whooping Crane) and perhaps with Wei Xinxian as well (North Shaolin Monk Fist). He was Miyagi Chojun's instructor (and taught other notables such as Mabuni and Itosu). Miyagi spent some time in China as well.123
     
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