Does karate need to evolve?

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
As I understand karate and it’s history, there’s been a constant fluidity and evolution of karate and what would eventually be known as karate.
However it seems to me that by and large karate has stagnated.

Sure there’s some people doing some new stuff like kudo, but even that came around in ‘81.
We’ve got karate combat, but if you look at the comments there’s supposed ‘karateka’ all over their videos saying “this isn’t karate” so it’s hard to say there’s any major evolution happening within the karate community as a whole.

I was an early subscriber to the Karate Culture YT channel, and don’t hold modern karate against those who enjoy it. However the question about the lack of ‘middle age group’ people, not the young kids and not the 40+ crowd in karate shows that karate is falling behind in some metrics.
Sure targeting children will keep dojos open and the style alive as some of those kids will be lifers themselves, but that’s a survival via life support imho.

I believe for karate to have a renaissance and have a chance to thrive again, there need to be some changes that occur. Changes that require some people to become students again to learn new ways of doing things.

I think a style that offers 3 K training side by side with honest pressure testing can exist. I think pointing fighting dojos can exist while karate combat style dojos also become more common, heck I believe one dojo can successfully do both.

The one thing I believe most of all is this idea of never changing ‘traditions’ that are largely less than a century old is going to kill karate especially in the west.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
We’ve got karate combat, but if you look at the comments there’s supposed ‘karateka’ all over their videos saying “this isn’t karate” so it’s hard to say there’s any major evolution happening within the karate community as a whole.
This is something that happens all the time in TMAs. People will look at videos of people who do something like blue belt Taekwondo sparring and say, "That isn't Taekwondo, it's just crappy kickboxing." The theory is that we would spar the same way we do forms. Of course, most people who are not elite at something are going to be some crappy version of it. Look at how many crappy MMA fighters there are who specifically train MMA.
 

isshinryuronin

Master of Arts
Joined
Feb 28, 2019
Messages
1,558
Reaction score
1,601
Location
Las Vegas
I believe for karate to have a renaissance and have a chance to thrive again, there need to be some changes that occur.
What kind of changes?
The one thing I believe most of all is this idea of never changing ‘traditions’ that are largely less than a century old is going to kill karate especially in the west.
What traditions do you think are harmful and why?
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
What kind of changes?

What traditions do you think are harmful and why?
As I said much more pressure testing is one of the big ones.

I don’t see any specific tradition as harmful, I see the mindset of some in which a super strict and rigid following of tradition is harmful.
The fact that so many shy away from grappling, to focus on striking only because it’s “traditional” would be an example

I personally intend to move to a BJJ style advancement system rather than the traditional testing periods, as I have found the 2 most common testing methods to be flawed.
1. Batch testing everyone regardless of time training or in rank.- makes newer people particularly kids feel bad when they don’t pass because of lack of time training.
2. Inviting only those who are actually ready to test- if you’re giving them the opportunity to rest hopefully it’s because you believe they’re ready for the next level. In which case why not just promote them instead of making them jump through extra hoops?
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,591
Reaction score
4,880
Location
England
As I said much more pressure testing is one of the big ones.

I don’t see any specific tradition as harmful, I see the mindset of some in which a super strict and rigid following of tradition is harmful.
The fact that so many shy away from grappling, to focus on striking only because it’s “traditional” would be an example

I personally intend to move to a BJJ style advancement system rather than the traditional testing periods, as I have found the 2 most common testing methods to be flawed.
1. Batch testing everyone regardless of time training or in rank.- makes newer people particularly kids feel bad when they don’t pass because of lack of time training.
2. Inviting only those who are actually ready to test- if you’re giving them the opportunity to rest hopefully it’s because you believe they’re ready for the next level. In which case why not just promote them instead of making them jump through extra hoops?
I don't know who tests the first way, it wouldn't work. The second one, why would you give them a rest?

When you write 'karate' do you do so understanding it's a generic term and there's differences between styles both in techniques and philosophy? Saying karate must change is like saying restaurants must change, it's vague and unsatisfactory.

A style that focuses on striking because it is a striking style is not strict and rigid. Would you call Judo strict and rigid because they don't teach weapons? Or Kendo because they don't grapple? The focus is maybe narrow to you because people want to focus on one skill at a time, plenty of students go to grappling classes as well.
If you want to learn French you do a course in just French, you don't add in Mandarin, you do a course in Mandarin.
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
I don't know who tests the first way, it wouldn't work. The second one, why would you give them a rest?

When you write 'karate' do you do so understanding it's a generic term and there's differences between styles both in techniques and philosophy? Saying karate must change is like saying restaurants must change, it's vague and unsatisfactory.

A style that focuses on striking because it is a striking style is not strict and rigid. Would you call Judo strict and rigid because they don't teach weapons? Or Kendo because they don't grapple? The focus is maybe narrow to you because people want to focus on one skill at a time, plenty of students go to grappling classes as well.
If you want to learn French you do a course in just French, you don't add in Mandarin, you do a course in Mandarin.
There will be exceptions but regardless of style the overwhelming majority of karate schools train the same 3 K methods with cooperative and compliant drills.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,591
Reaction score
4,880
Location
England
There will be exceptions but regardless of style the overwhelming majority of karate schools train the same 3 K methods with cooperative and compliant drills.
No, they dont. If they did however why would you think you are right and they are wrong? We don't have many schools in the UK we tend to have clubs, non profession.

Just out of interest do you know of Iain Abernethy and how he trains?
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
No, they dont. If they did however why would you think you are right and they are wrong? We don't have many schools in the UK we tend to have clubs, non profession.

Just out of interest do you know of Iain Abernethy and how he trains?
Bruh, we can go on YouTube and find countless instructors and schools all teaching the same basic thing. The katas may vary but generally yes they are.

I am very familiar with him. We’ve had a few discussions (not in person) on our more philosophical differences. Iain so fairly unique in his approaches.

You seem to very strongly disagree with my assertions, so do you believe the karate community as a whole is in a healthy thriving position and nothing needs to change, or do you agree that something needs to change but you just disagree with me on what it is?
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,591
Reaction score
4,880
Location
England
Bruh, we can go on YouTube and find countless instructors and schools all teaching the same basic thing. The katas may vary but generally yes they are.

I am very familiar with him. We’ve had a few discussions (not in person) on our more philosophical differences. Iain so fairly unique in his approaches.

You seem to very strongly disagree with my assertions, so do you believe the karate community as a whole is in a healthy thriving position and nothing needs to change, or do you agree that something needs to change but you just disagree with me on what it is?
I think we experience different things. In the US martial arts seems a very different animal.....schools, children's birthday parties, marketing, billing and lots of franchises. In the UK we teach out of village and Scout halls, school sports halls, local sports centres. There's as many adults as children, sparring for adults is hard, grading taken serious and lots of going (regardless of their style) to Iain's seminars, he's very popular as he is in Europe where martial arts is much the same as us. He's not as unique as you think, he has a huge following and many training his way.
I'm asking you questions which you aren't replying to in any detail. It seems basically you think karate should change because they don't grapple.
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
I think we experience different things. In the US martial arts seems a very different animal.....schools, children's birthday parties, marketing, billing and lots of franchises. In the UK we teach out of village and Scout halls, school sports halls, local sports centres. There's as many adults as children, sparring for adults is hard, grading taken serious and lots of going (regardless of their style) to Iain's seminars, he's very popular as he is in Europe where martial arts is much the same as us. He's not as unique as you think, he has a huge following and many training his way.
I'm asking you questions which you aren't replying to in any detail. It seems basically you think karate should change because they don't grapple.
I think kata are full of grappling and as a result karate should actively train grappling.

I also think that compliant training needs to be much less prevalent in favor of pressure testing.

I am disappointed that karate allowed KB to be removed from the karate umbrella for example.

I don’t necessarily think I have all the answers but I think it’s important we question what we’re doing, why we’re doing and what we can do better.
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
Yes, I agree. Most all those karate instructors are teaching..........wait for it..................KARATE.
Clever one you are.
But karate does not require a hyper focus on kata and compliant drills to the detriment of other facets of training. Especially for people who claim to be teaching self defense.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
1. Batch testing everyone regardless of time training or in rank.- makes newer people particularly kids feel bad when they don’t pass because of lack of time training.
2. Inviting only those who are actually ready to test- if you’re giving them the opportunity to rest hopefully it’s because you believe they’re ready for the next level. In which case why not just promote them instead of making them jump through extra hoops?
The two main reasons people push to improve is competition and belt tests. Some people aren't that into competition, or there aren't that many competitions in your area. In those cases, belt tests are a good motivator.

The testing invite is basically that you have passed the test. The formal testing helps make it feel official or earned. One of the problems in BJJ is the feeling of imposter syndrome when you get a new stripe or belt. There are some BJJ schools that do formal testings, and I would imagine they are similar - you only test when you know you're ready. The formal test also helps kids to feel confident in their ability to retain information under pressure, which can help when doing tests in other areas.
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
The two main reasons people push to improve is competition and belt tests. Some people aren't that into competition, or there aren't that many competitions in your area. In those cases, belt tests are a good motivator.

The testing invite is basically that you have passed the test. The formal testing helps make it feel official or earned. One of the problems in BJJ is the feeling of imposter syndrome when you get a new stripe or belt. There are some BJJ schools that do formal testings, and I would imagine they are similar - you only test when you know you're ready. The formal test also helps kids to feel confident in their ability to retain information under pressure, which can help when doing tests in other areas.
I’ve never heard anyone talk about experiencing imposter syndrome in BJJ.
I don’t really know if it’s because of the way they do advancements, or more about the myth and hype surrounding the style.

I had some imposter syndrome when at the hombu dojo. Back as a sandan I didn’t feel like I belonged in the blackbelt line up with the people I spent years looking up to, and I went through formal testings for every single rank along the way, so I’m not sure the method of advancement is the cause.

Advancement is still on the table as a motivator it just isn’t restricted to a certain time frame.
 

wab25

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,318
Reaction score
1,175
In order to successfully change Karate (without destroying it) you would need to understand a few things first.

The first thing you need to understand, is what the movements really are. This is different than what a lot of people and schools think they are. As you said, there is a lot of grappling in the kata, that many people either ignore or don't know about.

The second thing you need to understand is Shu-Ha-Ri. Most people have no idea what Shu-Ha-Ri is... even though they practice kata or even teach kata. Learning and practicing Kata, is step one of Shu-Ha_ri. If you are not aware, that Kata is only step one and that there is a lot more that follows step one... its like learning to play an instrument and only ever practicing scales and assuming that that is all there is to learning music. Learning scales is step one in learning music theory, and learning how to actually play music.

Before you can change Karate, you have to first understand what it is. Once you find out what it actually is.... you may find out that Karate does not really need to change. But, maybe people's understanding of what they are doing should change... If that is too much work... just train MMA.... thats probably what you want anyway. There is no need to change Karate into MMA. If MMA is what you want, go train that.
 
Last edited:

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,591
Reaction score
4,880
Location
England
I think kata are full of grappling and as a result karate should actively train grappling.

I also think that compliant training needs to be much less prevalent in favor of pressure testing.

I am disappointed that karate allowed KB to be removed from the karate umbrella for example.

I don’t necessarily think I have all the answers but I think it’s important we question what we’re doing, why we’re doing and what we can do better.
KB?

It depends what the founder was thinking at the time. My karate style Wado Ryu is a case in point, Shotokan has similarities of course but doesn't have what Wado does.
How many karate classes in the world? How many styles, how many instructors yet you class them all together as being basically useless. This generalisation is poor you aren't basing it on any research just the limited experience you have of how many classes and instructors, not thousands that's for sure. I've been to many places training over many years and I really wouldn't generalise in this way.
 
OP
G

GojuTommy

Black Belt
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
569
Reaction score
217
KB?

It depends what the founder was thinking at the time. My karate style Wado Ryu is a case in point, Shotokan has similarities of course but doesn't have what Wado does.
How many karate classes in the world? How many styles, how many instructors yet you class them all together as being basically useless. This generalisation is poor you aren't basing it on any research just the limited experience you have of how many classes and instructors, not thousands that's for sure. I've been to many places training over many years and I really wouldn't generalise in this way.
KB=kickboxing.
 

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
7,190
Reaction score
2,343
I’ve never heard anyone talk about experiencing imposter syndrome in BJJ.
I don’t really know if it’s because of the way they do advancements, or more about the myth and hype surrounding the style.
Have you ever talked to someone who does BJJ?

This is such a common occurrence, I don't know how you couldn't have heard of it. It would be like saying you've never heard of a boxer who's been hit in the head, or that you've never heard of a Karetaka who's learned a kata before.

People get a stripe and don't feel they've earned it yet. People get promoted to blue belt and get the blue belt blues and quit. They suddenly go from being treated like a white belt to being treated like a blue belt, which is hard when you're closer to some of the white belts than some of the more experienced blue belts.

Advancement is still on the table as a motivator it just isn’t restricted to a certain time frame.
Advancement with no particular direction doesn't tell you what to work on. If you have to memorize a form and learn it to a certain level of detail, then you know what to work on in order to advance.

"Learn this form and these 10 other rote combinations" is much more specific direction than "Get gud."
 
Top