The difference between various styles and ryus of karate, advantages and disadvantages.

Jayo S

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Osu! Since there are many different forms and ryus of karate, how can you distinguish one from the other and what are the advantages and disadvantages.

My first introduction to karate was in 2001 when started training in Shotokan. While there, many of our stances are low. I left after reaching orange belt since the dojo where I trained was what you call a "MC-Dojo" though it is big and well respected in The Philippines. But the main reason was because their dojo and style was more for sport application rather than self defense.

Recently I started training in Kyokushinkai in which many of it's styles are based in Shotokan and Goju Ryu. Though the lower stance is less compared to Shotokan.

Anyway both Shotokan and Kyokushin has it's advantages and disadvantages. While the later is more full contact, there are certain rules when it comes to sparring like punching in head level.
 

Uncle

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Some styles focus more on sport and some more on self defense. The older styles like uechi ryu/pangai noon tend to be a lot more self defense oriented and focus a lot on kata, physical conditioning, and are much more like their Chinese martial art predecessors. Some styles do kata but don't really understand what it really is. Some do kata for performance only. Some abandon the old kata and do only new kata. Some don't do kata at all and do more of a kickboxing style but call it karate.

...and that's just one, very simple (though important) element. There are variations in pretty much everything. What I think is far more productive is looking at the old styles of karate and the similarities between them in terms of training and technique.
 

chinto

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If you are talking about Okinawan Karate styles, look first at when the style was started. the ones that are almost a century old or more are very self defense aimed. the larger ones like Shobayashi, Kobayashi, Matsumura Seito, Matsubaysashi and Goju Ryu are all when taught properly very very effective and efficient at self defense. some of the very new styles I have my doubts about.
That said, remember it is almost as much about the man as the system. some people are so talented and skilled they can make a very sportorized version work very well for them even on the street.
 

Kong Soo Do

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Agree with the above two posts. Older Okinawan arts (taking late 1800's/early 1900's) are what you could term very 'hard core' arts. By this I mean that a LOT of physical conditioning is involved. As an example, in Pangainoon/Uechi Ryu (my first art) a common method of testing Sanchin kata for a Dan test was to have four instructors/senior students surround you, one on each side and front and back. They strike and kick you while you perform the kata. And we aren't talking little love taps either. This is to test your focus first and foremost, but also your body conditioning. Similiarly, we kicked tires mounted the wall with our shins and had drills where we alternated striking/kicking each other or hard blocking.

This built a very strong body, a focused mind and took a lot of fear out of you from being struck. It also allowed you to be able to injure/damage your adversary just by blocking an incoming attack.

The term 'hard core' should not be construced to principles however as many 'soft' principles are in those arts. Indeed, Pangainoon (and I believe Goju Ryu) mean hard/soft style.
 

Seizan

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I once asked my first teacher in New York a similar question...

Well, its not what system a person studies, but how. If a person trains his applications, he has an advantage...
 

RobBnTX

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First of all you have to be comfortable in the style you are practicing and that may take a few trial classes here and there but the most important thing is to find a good instructor and then stay with him (or her)!
 

Curlykarateka

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my style, Goju is one of the most traditional and traditional okinawan Goju Ryu has a strong chinese influence. it features more skillful redirection and soft movements. to my knowledge it has a fairly big focus on grappling techniques (joint locks, sweeps, takedowns) It has a big focus on both external and internal conditioning. Kicks tend to be powerful thrusts not quick snaps but honestly it's a matter of personal preference, . Also, there's little or no sport element in Goju, but kumite is used as a training exercise. Well that's Goju :). I can't tell you much 'bout the other styles though.
 

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