Why ALL Karate Styles are FAKE

Discussion in 'Karate' started by Steve, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    First, the video is not controversial, though the title certainly is. In another thread, someone posted a video from the Karate Nerd. I enjoy the guy's videos, though I'm not sure how accurate they are. What do you guys think of this brief history of the modern origin of the various styles of karate?


     
  2. Graywalker

    Graywalker Blue Belt

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    I have watched this video a few times and it is mostly accurate. Some more light was shined on this since the translation of Toyama's book.

    Here is an excerpt by Miyagi (Goju Ryu founder) from the 1936 round table.

    Miyagi- 'There is the opinion that there seems to be two styles in Karate, Shorin ryu and Shorei Ryu. But there is no clear base for this whatsoever. If forced to make a distinction between the two, it seems that they have been classified by their methodologies. In the 'first style', Shorin Ryu, Kihon and Kata (kaishu) are taught in a jumble without clear and standardized system. In the second style Shorei Ryu, there are standardized policies and system for instruction which is explicitly classified into Kihon and Kata. My instructor taught me the latter methodology.'

    Another quote by Miyagi might be helpful. This is when Toyama asked Miyagi why he attached a name to his personal karate.

    Miyagi-'The motive for deliberately attaching the style name of Goju Ryu was that people of the world still lack understanding and knowledge regarding Karate, so I expressed all the particulars about karate in an easily understandable way using the two characters of Go (hard) and Ju (soft).'

    There is much more from those old Karate masters discussing the name. It is funny, reading this book, and the transcript of this meeting, it seems that the idea of calling it Karate Do, had to do more with the Do concept of spirituality and not the empty hand aspect.

    But as for styles, it seems names were chosen to help understand what Karate represented. Not a different system.
     
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  3. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Thanks. So, help me understand. If I take this video at face value, before the founders of the styles codified the modern systems, it seems like the culture around Okinawan martial training was more like modern MMA. Cross training, sharing of techniques, very fluid. Isn't this a significant departure from what we hear so often? I mean, we hear about secretive styles passed from teacher to a select few, usually within a family. We hear about highly codified systems. The representation in this video makes a whole lot more sense to me.
     
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  4. Graywalker

    Graywalker Blue Belt

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    Yes, I would say that the ideology resembles modern MMA. I would say that the ideology still exist in some of the system of today.

    I myself train in a system, with roots from Shudokan, (Toyama Kanken) but that was simply the name of the school. He himself didn't believe in the idea of separate styles and he himself trained in Taiwan for 7yrs in kung fu.

    He was serious about cross training and promoted it highly amongst his students. This is why you will find grappling (stand up and ground) in a lot of the schools that come from his line.
     
  5. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Cross training to me would mean training not just grappling, but training with grapplers. Is that what you mean?
     
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  6. Graywalker

    Graywalker Blue Belt

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    One more thing, you will find a majority of the Shudokan schools, in the PNW, but it is practiced else where and through a Korean line as well.
     
  7. Graywalker

    Graywalker Blue Belt

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    Both. Another thing that is interesting, this book and that meeting, discussed not using Juijitsu, in the name anymore, so as not to be confused with other methods, that focused soley on grappling. But, it was and still is practiced in some systems.
     
  8. Graywalker

    Graywalker Blue Belt

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    I will say this, these things were taught, but they where not realistic to the direction karate was taking for tournaments in the 80's.

    As a matter of fact, I watched this happen in my original Shudokan dojo in 87'. The applications were neglected as were the grappling aspects. The Dojo, and the training, became more geared towards competition. Application and grappling, were replaced with point sparring.

    Cross training, with other schools in the area, boxing, tkd, kenpo and whatever other school was around, just died.

    Literally over night.

    And, in the history of the school, the days of the basement dojo under a bakery, (when I was training) are not even mentioned.
     
  9. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Brown Belt

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    Jesse's video brought up good points. In my thread on Funakoshi I brought up the point of the historical marketing of karate to Japan, also had several posts on how the old masters cross trained with each other (Okinawa is a very small place) and shared teachers, so most Okinawan styles (and kata) were similar. Like in the USA, English is spoken with a unique Boston accent, or Texan, or Louisianan accent, due to geographic separation. All the same language, but different "styles" of speaking. I see early karate in this light. Much of the difference now is due to the styles' interpretations of the application of some of the moves (and variation in instructor's skill and knowledge).

    I find the history of karate is closely tied with the history of Japan and Okinawa. Up to 1900 or so, Okinawa was more closely tied to China. Toude and karate meant Chinese hands. Okinawans were not particularly fond of the Japanese who subjugated them and abused them as being inferior. The Okinawans had to fight against this discrimination for acceptance - and be seen as more "Japanese" who liked things organized and codified, sharing the same "way." Karate jutsu became karate do. While Funakoshi (and Itosu) worked to standardize karate as it was introduced to Japan in the 20's, there were further moves in the 30's (not too successful) to codify Okinawan karate styles into one "style" throughout Japan.

    At the same time, war was brewing as Japan looked to invade China. Karate could no longer be associated with China so the symbol for karate was changed to make it mean "empty hands." Okinawans now needed to distance themselves from China and get closer to Japanese acceptance. This was a driving force in the evolution of karate and its "marketing" to fit in with Japanese culture.

    Many of these points have been mentioned here and in the past, but I wanted to kind of unify them into a single theme of historical currents converging and carrying karate along and into modern times (where a whole new set of currents took over.) Hope I didn't get too involved here - I think I need to cut down on my MA reading.
     
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  10. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    God, I love fake Karate. Been doing it most of my life.
     
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  11. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Yeah watched this recently, good video. I don't 100% know but it makes sense to me.

    And I think his point is (and always has been throughout alot of his vids) that it's limiting to solely define what style you do and stick to that, and disparaging other karate styles is counterproductive to your development. Learning from everyone is important. An obvious point really haha.

    Trained with Jesse about 5 years ago when he came down here, awesome instructor!
     
  12. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Haven't we all! :)
     
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  13. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    Many of the founders and their students trained in Judo and incorporated the principles they learned into their karate. Funakoshi (Shotokan) spent a good amount of time with Kano (Judo) during the time karate was being brought to Japan and being standardized so it could be taught in schools for physical education. Mas Oyama (Kyokushin) and many of his early students allegedly held dan rank and had competition success in judo. The list goes on and on.

    There was a sharing of knowledge and working together in karate back then. Students were encouraged to learn from others. The founders had multiple teachers.

    Then what I like to call the purist generation came along and felt the need to teach it EXACTLY as it was taught by their teacher with NO variation whatsoever. Basically preserving what they thought was the true and perfect way. Funny thing is people from the same teacher were taught differently; they learned at different times in the teacher’s life, the training was tailored to them individually, etc. IMO this is most likely when karate began its true “stylization.” What Jesse is talking about far is more of stylization in name and/or on paper than what that generation did. There are definite pros and cons to that generation’s contributions, which I think is another discussion altogether.
     
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  14. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    Part of this is cultural. Okinawan had its own indigenous art of grappling called "te-gumi" which most would have participated in. An equivalent would be how in many places in the US wrestling is taught from early childhood in school/community programs. The idea of "ne-waza" really didn't exist except as a subset of some Japanese Jujitsu, but wouldn't have been widely taught until Jigaro Kano added it to his Judo.

    Karate as we know it was originally a civilian self-defense system that addressed the most common attacks of the time (Patrick McCarthy refers to this as the "Habitual Acts of Violence"). The grappling contained within the Okinwan karate would have been grabs, holds, throws etc. and some groundfighting, but not ground grappling like we see in BJJ. All of the karate masters would have been trained in these applications, both applying and defending. If you look at the Bubishi (referred to as the bible of karate) you can see various grappling methods included, such as, single leg takedowns. Here is a blog that highlights some of this based on the Bubishi: 48 techniques (part I)

    I don't agree with Jesse that ALL of Okinawa had no karate styles in that the karate from Naha was very different from the karate from the Shuri and Tomari regions due to body mechanics. Shuri/Tomari methods became Shorin-ryu and the Naha method became Goju/Uechi ryu. That doesn't mean that students didn't learn from the various areas and incorporate some ideas, but the way that Jesse explains his viewpoint makes it sound like "all karate was the same before style labels", which was not the case.

    But, I agree with Jesse that ALL styles of karate are fake, as are all styles of martial arts. By that, they were all created at some point by somebody and passed on by another bunch of somebodies. Okinawan karate was also much "looser" than the Japanese version. A teacher would have various versions of the same kata that would be practiced and training was done one to one with a student and the kata would vary between students. Once labels did come into play, this is where you started to see the argument of who learned "the real art" or which version was more authentic. Also, as an instructor refined their own art, it would have been different at different times. The Japanese were really the ones responsible for "freezing things in time" and not changing things.
     
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  15. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Very interesting and informative video. Would you think it is true to say the MMA acronym is bringing the origin of JMA training (possibly all training) full circle?
     
  16. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    From the outside, I think that purist generation may have done some lasting damage to the styles. Seems like a direct line can be drawn to many of the issues with the "traditional" part of TMA from the overemphasis on purity of the style and technique over growth and practicality. Not saying that practicality is absent. Just that if it was a conflict between purity of the technique over practicality, the purity of the technique would win out. That direct line seems to have led to modern attempts to "rediscover the bunkai" and such.
     
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  17. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    Some people get judged for being real, while some get loved for being fake.

    See that pretty gal over there? The boobs are real, the smile is fake.

    Who's real to your face, does not always stay real behind your back.

    And see the man teaching self defense over there? The outcome is fake, but the performance is real. ;)123
     

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