Western influences on Karate development?

Buka

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What would be some examples?

My impression (and I could be wrong here) is that a lot of what people tend to think about is techniques or bodies of techniques when they are talking about this kind of thing. Sort of like… the whole, “you need to include X and Y and Z in your training or your skills are incomplete and you have holes in your training.” Often it is the idea that a person training in a primarily striking method needs to add some kind of grappling to their toolkit, and vice-versa.

My personal opinion is that there is very little adherence to tradition purely for the sake of preservation of a historical artifact. I realize there are some old koryu arts for which this is a primary motive, but outside of that I don’t believe it is very common. However I do believe that a lot of people may not properly understand how a traditional method should continue to be relevant today.

In my experience, it isn’t about the techniques, specifically. Rather, the traditional method is more like a physical education that teaches one to move quickly, powerfully, and efficiently, and how to deliver technique with devastating results. The techniques taught within the method embody the concepts and the principles, but should not be viewed as the content of the method. Rather, they are simply options, among many options.

In this way, once you understand the physical education of it, you can use it to do anything that you want. Including spontaneous reactions, or adapting a body of techniques that were not part of the original training. As long as they function according to the principles of the method, then they have a place within the method.

So a TMA that is properly understood can become anything that one wants it to be, even if that looks different from what others are doing with it. Don’t be limited by what you were taught. Don’t see the method as establishing limitations. Rather, see it as a platform on which you can build anything that you want.

So then the notion of learning a “better” way sort of becomes irrelevant because one is always doing just that, insofar as it is compatible with one’s personal interests.
We are in complete agreement.
 

Buka

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Taking the competition aspect out of the equation leaves the system/style as the star. Evolution will happen over time based on adjustments to make the system more effective, as it has for the past three centuries. However, one just can't willy-nilly add stuff to it or it will become a sloppy MMA and the style will lose any individual identity and cease to exist.

Any changes to the style should be done by one who completely understands it (as by the master, or by other seniors and approved by him). This will insure the new stuff will work harmonious with the style and truly be an improvement. Is it OK for an instructor to teach other handy self-defense stuff? Sure. I agree with you. Being "off the books" is fine, as long it is made known and kept separate.

Tradition vs pragmatism must be well balanced. If pragmatism alone is used as a standard, knife and gun skills would become a part of the style and we'd all be second rate SEALs, for example. Keeping tradition will pass on the history and the "do" (path) part and keep the art as something more than just fighting. This idea is not new. Kung fu has a long history of Taoist influence, the Samurai had their own styles and codes, and even the grandfather of karate, "Bushi" (Warrior) Matsumura in the mid-late 1800's passed on the Seven Virtues of Bu.

It boils down to one's own personal view of MA, or more specifically, TMA. We all choose what's important to us in life, to improve ourselves in ways that best fit us. For some, "the way" is the main thing; for others, being fit and healthy is; for others, pure fighting ability is the goal. For some, like me, it's all three.

Luckily, there are systems and schools out there that offer a variety of arts and skills. No need to rank them as to value, except in relation to ourselves.
As with @Flying Crane , we are in complete agreement.
 

Steve

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Got $20,000 you'd like to contribute? I'll make you an Associate Director. :)

Actually there still are some of those traditional tourneys around, but are harder to find, especially bigger ones. The trend seems to be in the other direction I talked about. Hope it doesn't squeeze out the "old" style tournaments still around.
:) I hear you. Money can be a barrier, but I don't think that's insurmountable. My concern in your post is the lack of agency is suggests. What I mean is, you describe the changes in the tournament format as though they were inevitable... something no one could do anything about. In some cases, maybe that's true, but in this case, I don't buy it. In particular, guys like you and Buka, who probably have a century's worth of experience between you, could find some younger guys with a vigorous desire to test their mettle in an old school tournament format.

In the grappling world, it's kind of crazy how many different formats pop up, and it's really good for the art. I bet if you (or someone like you) organized a tournament as you described, it would be very popular, and probably very good for the art as a whole. And if you did a decent job, you'd probably make a little money... enough to hold another one, maybe.
 

SahBumNimRush

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Got $20,000 you'd like to contribute? I'll make you an Associate Director. :)

Actually there still are some of those traditional tourneys around, but are harder to find, especially bigger ones. The trend seems to be in the other direction I talked about. Hope it doesn't squeeze out the "old" style tournaments still around.
The Sabaki Challenge is the only one that quickly comes to mind, as far as bigger events.
 

Paul Calugaru

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Competition can be like a virus, taking the art's DNA and subverting it to its own purpose of self-perpetuation. In doing so, in may incorporate other arts and influences into its DNA, as well as delete elements from its host, as long as it aids in its own self interest.

Many new rules and procedures have been instituted in competitive karate that have nothing to do with the business of kumite, or even kata. Standardization, sanitation, marching up to the ring and exaggerated bowing and kiai's, and spectatorship have become important elements for example. They have little to do with karate itself, but more to do with the self-perpetuation of the competition scene and sponsoring organizations.

If you take a look at video of the old masters, you can see their kata reflects understated power and control, and perhaps a hint of deadliness, but none of them would come close to winning any modern competition. Their forms just aren't pretty enough. Little formality in their starts and endings - just a simple relaxed bow. Often, no kiai's at all. But, katas were not originated to look pretty, or even to be looked at at all by the public.

So the art mutates into something different from the original, with different goals and outcomes. This is, in and of itself, not bad. But modern sport karate should be recognized for what it is - a mutated version of the TMA with its own agenda and self-interests. As long as subtracting original, or adding new, elements from other arts into sport karate aids in its own propagation, the trend will continue.
Good post!
 

hoshin1600

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addressing the OP
I would be cautious about things Jesse E. Puts on line. I'm not saying anything bad about Jesse, it's just that he is a content creator and he is in constant need to make posts. That leads to making mountains out of mole hills.
 

isshinryuronin

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addressing the OP
I would be cautious about things Jesse E. Puts on line. I'm not saying anything bad about Jesse, it's just that he is a content creator and he is in constant need to make posts. That leads to making mountains out of mole hills.
Yes, he tends to sensationalize some topics a bit, but as you say, he wants to attract viewership. This has on occasion led his posts to emphasize a questionable point, but for the most part his stuff is very good. And he is a serious karate-ka, who has spent some time with a number of masters (I'm jealous) and is an excellent technician. His posts have educated many on the methods, background, and little known facts of karate, and so, in general, I think he has done a good job representing the art to the public - much better than the majority of stuff you find on you-tube.
 

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