Karate is kata, kata is karate

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Bill Mattocks, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Trapping a fingertip thrust.

    There are two versions of the block - one is with the downward hand closest to you which lifts the elbow (break) and the other has the downward hand furthest away to fold the elbow and trap. I used the latter...
     
  2. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    We teach both of those techniques (more focus on the fold than the upward lock). There is absolutely no connection drawn in class that it is a scissors block. When we do that application, we're told to high block and then hook the elbow. It wasn't until this week I realized that connection. This is why I would consider it a T2 application.

    And that's the thing - sometimes the applications are taught, but in such a compartmentalized fashion that you don't realize what's being taught until you start to play connect-the-dots.
     
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  3. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master of Arts

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    TKD is Karate's redheaded stepchild. We cannot be sure which happened first, 1. Karate disowned it, or 2.TKD filled for emancipation, and told karate..."you dead to me, old man".
     
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  4. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Hmm, Scissors blocks. Classic Korean/TKD history. I was taught/told by multiple high ranking (Masters)instructors they were originally used as a technique to remove a weapon from an attackers hands, usually a short to medium length weapon. Similar to the more modern (and very risky) gun disarm but more of a vertical motion.
    Would I use it? Unlikely but I do see it as a viable tool if I was mid-range to an attacker. I do Not think it is going to break someone's wrist on a reliable basis. I could happen if a wrist was caught just right but from my understanding that was never the intent.
    It is one of those techniques from an era where attacks and weapons were more predictable and usually had more of a life and death intent. People were much more versed in the counters they needed for the attacks/weapons they faced. Very, very different for most of the world today.
    FWIW, I see many people do it as just a "regular" outside block and down block. We teach that the crossing arms/hands meet fist to elbow, fist to elbow in or near a horizontal plan where one fist is on the inside and one is on the outside. This is the disarming motion.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I'm starting to picture how it would be used. I think for the application you describe, I would actually do a more exaggerated motion than we use in our form (which is ironic, usually it's the other way around).

    We start chambered with our arms crossing our body. The hand doing a down block is held in the hinge position at shoulder level, the other hand in low hinge position at belly level. The fists are lined up under or over the elbows. If I were to use this on a punch or a strike of some sort, I'd likely start with the hand that will be doing the down block further outside, so I can push the punch off-center before doing the scissors motion.

    I hadn't thought of the technique as catching the punch between the arms (which maybe I should have, given the name). I've always thought the technique as blocking either side, to protect your leg and hips with the down block, and your ribs with the outside block. I think part of this is the way it's taught. We always look at both blocks independently based on their ending position (the down block should be just over your knee, the outside block should be bent 90 degrees into a bowl shape) and we don't look too much at the crossing part.

    And again, the part that baffles me is that we do train that application of folding the arm. We also teach that application with scissor sweeps. But for some reason we teach the scissor block as 2 separate blocks and don't dive any deeper than that.
     
  6. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I know the do/jutsu distinction, but I think it's a mistake to say that karate that emphasizes kumite over kata is always -jutsu, and to be -do, kata needs to be the primary focus.

    If your primary focus is simply getting better at real world fighting--like a law enforcement defensive tactics class--then it's -jutsu. If it's a hobby where you're engaged in self-improvement (mental and physical) through self-imposed challenges and athletics, then I would call that -do, not -jutsu. Whether it's kata-oriented karate, kumite-oriented karate, grappling, archery, whatever. Kyokushin, judo, kyudo...these can all be -do arts.
     
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  7. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't recall making that distinction.

    I don't think 'hobby' is the word I would use.
     
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  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    I'm not using "hobby" as a negative judgment, but as a distinction from the purely utilitarian training of law enforcement, bouncers, professional prizefighters, etc.

    "A hobby is a regular activity done for enjoyment, typically during one's leisure time, not professionally and not for pay."

    Hobby - Wikipedia

    Something can be a lifetime passion, but if you're training because you find the training fulfilling instead of because you're a cop or a bouncer or the like, I'd call it a hobby.

    And if that's the case, I'd say you're doing karate-do. Whether bunkai analysis of kata is central to your art, or whether your karate is kumite-oriented with a bit of performance-oriented kata on the side.
     
  9. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    @dvcochran @punisher73 @pdg

    I got the Taegeuk cipher and I'm looking through it now. I've glanced through it a little bit. There's a couple of points I've noticed:
    1. While he does try and stay true to the forms, there are small deviations from the form to make the techniques work. Where I have criticized others in the past of doing something completely different (i.e. a block and punch combo becomes an armlock, take-down, and choke-hold), his seems to utilize the movements in the forms as best he can. Still, there are subtle changes. I've only really looked through the first three sequences of Taegeuk #1 so far, and he's throwing in a turn here, a hip thrust there, changing the type of strike used to accommodate the application he wants to teach. Or, in the example we were struggling with in Taegeuk #8, he drops his knee and does a Fireman's Carry, which is a completely different motion from the block used in Taegeuk #8 (the right arm would go out, and then up, instead of going up and then out).
    2. He freely admits in the Introduction what I have been saying here. "Secondly, although Taekwondo was never taught in the way it is shown in this book outside a very small, closed community (and certainly not to the general public), the distillation of the original self-defense methods are preserved within the patterns and their various components are to be found throughout the post-war Korean military combatives methods and the hoshinsul of civilian Taekwondo. This book simply details the connection between the patterns and these practices, and provides a tool by which they may be understood within their context.
    Basically, in all of his research, he came to the same conclusion I have - that the KKW curriculum that is being disseminated does not include the application for the moves being taught. And in his recreation of the techniques, he has to de-stylize it to come up with the actual correct technique.

    It's still an interesting book, and I'll have to go through it and see what's in there. I also plan to go through each of the self defense applications presented with my study group and see if we can recreate them. It's kind of hard to tell on some of them with how grainy the pictures are.

    Punisher, thanks for the recommendation. My martial arts library is young, and this will be a good addition to it.
     
  10. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If that's the 'real' intention of that block then I must have independently changed it (not saying I'm the first, just that the way I interpret and apply hasn't been shown to me).

    The basic explanation is two separate blocks - or in at least a few cases as a high inner forearm block with the reaction hand extending downward. (I did look it up in a couple of places...)

    In use, I'm going to be aiming for the attackers wrist and elbow.

    Not to break the wrist, but to take advantage of the greater leverage available by targeting the elbow itself.
     
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  11. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    It is an explanation I have been told many times. I am not a strong historian so I cannot really speculate on whether it is 100% factual.
    So if I understand correctly, if you were to trap the wrist the inner block would bend it down?
     
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  12. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    What I meant by aiming for wrist and elbow is that I'd be aiming for both.

    Inner aiming for wrist, outer aiming for elbow, ish.

    If the inner is downward it's going to try bending the elbow the wrong way (assuming a natural position).

    If the inner is upward it's going to fold and trap the arm.


    Having them very close together to specifically target the wrist alone just doesn't make as much sense to me with my ability and speed.
     
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  13. Bill Mattocks

    Bill Mattocks Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don't mean to quibble, but I still don't think the word 'hobby' applies. I have hobbies. I collect vintage cameras. I repair and build vacuum tube amplifiers. I repair and ride vintage motorcycles. Those are hobbies. Karatedo is something more to me. It informs every aspect of my life. Repairing a radio is fun, but it doesn't teach me how to think about life or about people or how to critically examine my decisions in life. Karatedo is something I am, not just something I do. Being on the path is not a religion, but it's a lot closer to that than it is a hobby - for me.
     
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  14. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    ere to trap the wrist the inner block would bend it down?[/QUOTE]

    I think everyone is taught different applications as the default for many of these moves.
     
  15. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you're reacting to the dismissive connotation that "hobby" has in our culture, i.e. "it's just a hobby." The unstated implication is that an activity not related to earning a living is something lesser, trivial, or frivolous. I don't think that's a problem with the word so much as it is with our culture.

    I'll freely admit to being a martial arts "hobbyist" in that I am an amateur*. I don't do it for a living. I don't train with the intensity or duration that I would if I was making a living as a fighter or full-time instructor.

    *(In the original meaning of the word.)

    That said, I have been training martial arts for 38 years, currently averaging 8-12 hours of mat time and several hours of independent study time per week. Martial arts has informed my growth as a person, my outlook on the world, and my approach to living in general over the last 4 decades of my life. "Martial artist" is a core part of my identity. Is it a "hobby"? Sure, but one that's central to my life.

    Perhaps we could use new vocabulary to distinguish between "hobby that's a casual entertainment" and "hobby that's an important element of our lives and our identity", but until we get those new words, I'm not going to worry too much about the exact terminology someone uses to describe what I do.
     
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  16. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Do you make money from it? If the answer is no then it's a hobby
     
  17. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master of Arts

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    I must wholeheartedly agree.
    This isn't a hobby. The better term is "lifestyle".

    It is a way of living life. A hobby is done for fun and entertainment.
    That is not why karate was developed and released to the public by Anko Itosu.

    Karate is primarily a means of improving the quality of life. It helps to recover poor health, regulate mood and emotions. develop focus and self-discipline. And also develope perseverance and fortitude in the face of challenge difficulty.

    In fact, karate is very often the opposite of fun and entertaining.

    It is much related to the very old idea of praxis.
    Definition of praxis


    1: ACTION, PRACTICE: such as
    a: exercise or practice of an art, science, or skill
    b: customary practice or conduct
    2: practical application of a theory
     
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  18. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    Ironically find myself in agreement with Tony, Mitlov and Bill ...in spite of their seemingly different perspectives. On one hand Mitlov has a point and the common word "hobby" may describe my personal passion for the martial arts, since it is not my profession and, although I do teach to a small group, it is not how I make a living.

    However, in our materially oriented culture, the term "hobby", like the related term "amateur", often has a trivializing if not outright pejorative connotation ...at least in common usage. Anything not done full-time and for financial gain is typically seen as lacking seriousness and being mere recreation.

    As Mitlov pointed out, in some circles (see the Wikipedia link), the word hobby is equated with a new concept, that of a "serious leisure perspective" according to which a hobby may be regarded as a serious, passionate pursuit that, although not pursued for profit or livelihood, is nonetheless an indispensable part of who we are and what we find meaningful in life.

    Regardless, I find this specialized definition of the word "hobby" unhelpful since the word is not used or understood this way in general usage. It reminds me of my early college days studying anthropology and religious studies. In those disciplines the word "myth" was used to describe ways in which humans create frameworks to express their search for transcendent truths. Or something like that. So in that academic context it was entirely appropriate and not disrespectful to refer to aspects of the "Christian myth", etc. However, as that is not the way the word myth is generally used today, I would not recommend approaching devoutly religious people and telling them how much you respect their particular myth! o_O

    So, I would say to Mitlov, that Bill is quite correct. The word hobby is inadequate here, and I would agree with Tony, that we need to find another word or phrase to describe what we do. I just don't know what that would be.
     
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  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I agree with what you say Tony.
    I feel we already have an alternate word for things beyond a hobby; passion. I am guessing but I think we are both passionate about MA (and other things I am certain). Sometimes it keeps me up at night and I have committed crazy long hours, pain and loss for my MA passion. I have not made money directly from my MA competition but I never saw that venture as a hobby since I had way too much in it.
    I love boats and Jeeps but I don't think I can say the same about them (maybe the money part). They are in the hobby category for me.
     
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  20. Mitlov

    Mitlov Blue Belt

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    From now on I'll say "passion" instead of "hobby" if it makes folks happy. What I wanted to get back to , though, is this post.

    This was in response to me saying that some karate was kata-centric but that some was kumite-centric. If your point was not that karate has to be kata-centric to be "karate-do," what instead was your point? Because that's what I got from this, but clearly I missed your intent.123
     

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