Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise martial arts?

Bullsherdog

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Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise Karate? : karate

Indeed I wonder why are so many so-called experts and historians on the martial arts now changing the narrative? I mean as I said it one can simply go on fighting at the bar to learn effective strikes that resemble kung fu attacks and there are plenty of examples outside of Asia of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc). So why are many martial arts scholars now insisting only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

By the way how accurate is Jesse Enkamp's claims specifically regarding karate?
 

Gweilo

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only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

Rubbish, IMO, most ma schools here in the uk do similar to what we do in pricing, there are 9 classes a week, 2 family, 1 ladies, 2 health and conditioning, 4 combat classes, students can choose 1 of the following subscriptions, £20 per month entitles you to attend 1 class per week, £40 entitles you to 2 classes per week, £60 entitles you to as many classes as you would like to attend (up to 8), most choose option 3, on average they attend 4 classes a week, combat classes 2 hours, health classes 1.5 hours, this works out at £15 per week and £3.75 per class, you will pay more than that for a movie rental. Private classes or 1 2 1s, are a lot more expensive, although these are on the rise, and more affluent people attend them. So it depends on which type of student programe they run. 5 day intensive training courses, and 2 day workshops are a bit of both, we have dedicated students attending (whilst these are not cheap approx £100 per day on a 2 day, and £70ish a day for the 5 day), I tend to find a few of the private students will attend.
 

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I found this post.

Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise Karate? : karate

Indeed I wonder why are so many so-called experts and historians on the martial arts now changing the narrative? I mean as I said it one can simply go on fighting at the bar to learn effective strikes that resemble kung fu attacks and there are plenty of examples outside of Asia of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc). So why are many martial arts scholars now insisting only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

By the way how accurate is Jesse Enkamp's claims specifically regarding karate?

That article points to the fact that you need extra time to train, and that you will generally have to compensate your instructor.

What a controversial 'narrative'!

Another herpaderp topic.

I can't help but feel if you did ANY of your own research on anything your post count here would be zero.
 

skribs

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This is the first I've heard of any such claims.

There are specific countries where commoners or slaves were banned from doing martial arts, at least according the lore of those arts. There are some arts that were changed when they went from being military to being more mainstream (Karate and Krav Maga are probably two of the biggest ones). But I've never heard anything about only the rich taking martial arts.

I have no reason not to trust Jesse Enkamp. He really seems to know his stuff.
 

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I found this post.

Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise Karate? : karate

Indeed I wonder why are so many so-called experts and historians on the martial arts now changing the narrative? I mean as I said it one can simply go on fighting at the bar to learn effective strikes that resemble kung fu attacks and there are plenty of examples outside of Asia of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc). So why are many martial arts scholars now insisting only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

By the way how accurate is Jesse Enkamp's claims specifically regarding karate?
i suspect it probebly largley true, just based on maslows hierarchy of needs, that people who are wondering where their next meal is comming from are largley focused on where their next meal is comming from rather than engaging in self improvment, its also very dificult to reach athletic potential if your living on a bowl of rice a day

im sure they learned to fight as young men, just as young men have always managed to do, just out of survival, but that a long way from a life time of dedication in karate and largely unnessersary, if very few others of your peers are learning karate
 
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isshinryuronin

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I found this post.

Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise Karate? : karate

Indeed I wonder why are so many so-called experts and historians on the martial arts now changing the narrative? I mean as I said it one can simply go on fighting at the bar to learn effective strikes that resemble kung fu attacks and there are plenty of examples outside of Asia of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc). So why are many martial arts scholars now insisting only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

By the way how accurate is Jesse Enkamp's claims specifically regarding karate?

There seem to be two issues here: Historical and current.

Historically (1700-1900) karate (toude) was mostly practiced by the lower/middle aristocrats. Why? Toude (lit. "Chinese hands") was introduced to Okinawa by Chinese trade/military missions. These, of course, were staffed by higher level Chinese . They, in turn, dealt with Okinawan counterparts of similar standing. So, it was natural that toude was introduced to, and developed, by this group. Conversely, Okinawan aristocrats were sent to China to learn "civilized arts," as Chinese culture was admired in Okinawa. This travel was generally confined to the city of Fuzhou. It just so happens that a Shaolin temple was located near there, and was where White Crane gong fu developed. Again, it was the upper class that were exposed to this martial art and then brought it back to Okinawa.

This is a changed narrative from what was popular Western thought in the 1960's thru 90's. It was a great story. But, after this time, old writings had been translated to English, and much unknown karate history made its way to the public. Jesse Enkamp is a recognized authority on karate and has travelled extensively to Japan and Okinawa, spending time with many of the top, modern masters. His own karate is also technically excellent.

As to the current state of karate, demographically speaking, not much different from 50 years ago, as far as I can tell. It is diverse, with even lower income students finding a venue.
 

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of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc).


None of these are 'peasants'. In ancient Greece wrestling was a important sport not learning to fight.
 
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Bullsherdog

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This is the first I've heard of any such claims.

There are specific countries where commoners or slaves were banned from doing martial arts, at least according the lore of those arts. There are some arts that were changed when they went from being military to being more mainstream (Karate and Krav Maga are probably two of the biggest ones). But I've never heard anything about only the rich taking martial arts.

I have no reason not to trust Jesse Enkamp. He really seems to know his stuff.

Here is the specific article the OP quotes in the reddit link.

Karate Myth Busting: The Secret Truth About Peasants and Karate
 

WaterGal

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Honestly, it makes sense to me that adults who had the time and money to train in martial arts for hours every day probably were mostly going to be middle or upper class, or monks or dojo owners (or I guess professional fighters/soldiers/security guards). Peasant farm laborers might have had time once in a while to drill some basic stuff in the village square, maybe practice a bit in the air while they were waiting for the rain to pass or something, but they probably were too busy doing hard farm labor to spend much time training.
 

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Depends on the place in question, era/time peroid and "style". Some were restricted to nobility, either specfically banned or just by the cost for training, others not so much.

And i would say in a similar vein they are changing the "narrative" that european martial arts didnt exist and arent compartive to asian ones. Historians are only intrested in sources and they change over time usually. If a scroll is found 30 years later, and is translated it can very really impact how the past is percived and it happens all the time.

I would imagine most places and most people would have done some form of fighting even if it was just for fun, not in the way you would imagine a formalised school for it, but its still at least some form of practice.

Peasant farm laborers might have had time once in a while to drill some basic stuff in the village square, maybe practice a bit in the air while they were waiting for the rain to pass or something, but they probably were too busy doing hard farm labor to spend much time training.

Just for a history lesson here, townsfolk were mandated in some places to do militia work. ie If brigands were along one of their roads, it would be their job to uproot them. As much as you can find cases of weapon restrictions and the like, you can find plenty of cases of conscription and making people do soldier work.

You do need specfic examples rather than a big generalsation though.
 

dvcochran

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I found this post.

Why is there now a narrative that it was only aristocrats who could practise Karate? : karate

Indeed I wonder why are so many so-called experts and historians on the martial arts now changing the narrative? I mean as I said it one can simply go on fighting at the bar to learn effective strikes that resemble kung fu attacks and there are plenty of examples outside of Asia of peasants learning how to fight (wrestling in Ancient Greece, American Indians using spears to hunt, Norsemen practising swordsmanship during the farming months back at home, etc). So why are many martial arts scholars now insisting only the upper class and aristocrats practise martial arts?

By the way how accurate is Jesse Enkamp's claims specifically regarding karate?
Well first off, it is a reddit post (aka, some random persons opinion).
I agree with everyone else that it is a ridiculous assertion in the modern day. People for literally every standard of living practice martial arts.
There is some fact to the claim in history. Many times rulers limited training and teaching to control people. Combat training is a common element.
A LOT of the eastern expansion of the Martial Arts in the 60's and 70's was from former military people moving west to teach their craft. Few of these people were 'aristocrats'. It would be truer to say most of them were poor.
It is a rather ridiculous article. Possibly true in a few very exclusive areas.
 
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WaterGal

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Just for a history lesson here, townsfolk were mandated in some places to do militia work. ie If brigands were along one of their roads, it would be their job to uproot them. As much as you can find cases of weapon restrictions and the like, you can find plenty of cases of conscription and making people do soldier work.

You do need specfic examples rather than a big generalsation though.

If I recall correctly, during the American colonial period, every free man of military age was required to do military exercises one day a month as part of the local town militia, for basically this kind of thing. Basically marching up and down the town square and doing some target shooting.

While this is purely speculative, it wouldn't surprise me if peasant villagers "back in the day" probably got a similar level of training. Just really basic stuff that could be taught one afternoon a month. Here's how to hold a spear, here's how to throw a punch. Follow directions and march that way.
 
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Bullsherdog

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Well first off, it is a reddit post (aka, some random persons opinion).
I agree with everyone else that it is a ridiculous assertion in the modern day. People for literally every standard of living practice martial arts.
There is some fact to the claim in history. Many times rulers limited training and teaching to control people. Combat training is a common element.
A LOT of the eastern expansion of the Martial Arts in the 60's and 70's was from former military people moving west to teach their craft. Few of these people were 'aristocrats'. It would be truer to say most of them were poor.
It is a rather ridiculous article. Possibly true in a few very exclusive areas.

Wrong, it was a response to this link.

Karate Myth Busting: The Secret Truth About Peasants and Karate

Whatchat think?
 

Rat

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If I recall correctly, during the American colonial period, every free man of military age was required to do military exercises one day a month as part of the local town militia, for basically this kind of thing. Basically marching up and down the town square and doing some target shooting.

While this is purely speculative, it wouldn't surprise me if peasant villagers "back in the day" probably got a similar level of training. Just really basic stuff that could be taught one afternoon a month. Here's how to hold a spear, here's how to throw a punch. Follow directions and march that way.


thats all you really need to form a militia to go after bandits or round up criminals. If its a bigger issue a noble or the king would amass a army to fight it or somone would pay for mercinaries to come and do it etc. After a couple of those you would probbly have more expereinced people mixed in with less.

I just always find it funny how people cite weapon restrictions and forget or overlook the places that mandated service in a military or ownership of a weapon etc.


Also, best example for weapon owenship etc i know of thats at least so-so well documented is the "wild west", everyone in a frontier town would be armed and know how to use said weapons just for their own survival.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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you need extra time to train, and that you will generally have to compensate your instructor.
Agree with you 100% on this.

Old Chinese saying said, "穷文富武 - The poor will take the scholar path. Only the rich can afford to take the MA path."

When you are so poor that you don't even have chance to eat meat, you can't go very far in your MA path.

When my senior SC brother David C. K. Lin was still alive. He charge $200 per hour for his private lesson. I used to pay round trip airline fair, room and board, plus $1800 per month to bring my teacher to stay in my house to teach me.

MA study costs money.
 
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Bullsherdog

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Agree with you 100% on this.

Old Chinese saying said, "穷文富武 - The poor will take the scholar path. Only the rich can afford to take the MA path."

When you are so poor that you don't even have chance to eat meat, you can't go very far in your MA path.

When my senior SC brother David C. K. Lin was still alive. He charge $200 per hour for his private lesson. I used to pay round trip airline fair, room and board, plus $1800 per month to bring my teacher to stay in my house to teach me.

MA study costs money.

Nonsense. Esp since a lot of the best martial artists historically were street fighters and a lot of styles were created on the fly from street experience.

In addition you also forget some masters offered lessons for free and some cultures like Sengoku period of Japan's specific clans were so militaristic they offered basics for anyone and the gifted ones get advance training free.

We aren't even counting the fact not all poor people are illiterate and starving. Just like how kung fu and karate classes are popular in certain black ghettos like parts of New York, there's different hierarchy of poor people. Some will be well off enough to not only eat healthy food 3X a day, but could even have luxuries like go watch theater once a blue moon or travel across the country and have a few fancy formal attire like suite and tie or silk robes. We are not counting the fact some despite being poor class are wealthy enough to watch theater monthly, if not several times a month, and eat at restaurants weekly.

You also forget times of war like invasions by the Mongols or Japan's Meiji Civil Wars where even commoners got free training if they volunteered and even the hated Burakumin caste were given arms and training by both side (even allowed into higher castes depending on their performance).

thats all you really need to form a militia to go after bandits or round up criminals. If its a bigger issue a noble or the king would amass a army to fight it or somone would pay for mercinaries to come and do it etc. After a couple of those you would probbly have more expereinced people mixed in with less.

I just always find it funny how people cite weapon restrictions and forget or overlook the places that mandated service in a military or ownership of a weapon etc.


Also, best example for weapon owenship etc i know of thats at least so-so well documented is the "wild west", everyone in a frontier town would be armed and know how to use said weapons just for their own survival.

Believe it or not there was gun control, some places even stricter than today.

Gun Control Is as Old as the Old West | History | Smithsonian Magazine
 

Tez3

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You also forget times of war like invasions by the Mongols or Japan's Meiji Civil Wars where even commoners got free training if they volunteered


Who said wars didn't do any good! Free martial arts training! Woohoo!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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a lot of the best martial artists historically were street fighters ...
A street fighter may be able to teach his "street fighting" skill/experience to his students. He won't be able to teach a complete MA package to his students.

Back in the 70, one may only need to pay $20 per month to learn MA. Today, I believe it will be at least $150 per month.

my-school-ad.jpg
 
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