Sunday, May 25, 2014

Traditional Karate in Arizona

Joseki wall at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate with kamidana at front of the dojo.
Tsuneo Kinjo, 8th dan from Okinawa wrote, "A number off fighting sports these days have incorporated karate techniques, but how many people can say they know the difference between traditional karate and sports karate?"

He then goes on to quote the great Okinawan karate grandmaster and founder of Goju-Ryu karate, Chojun Miyagi (1888-1953) as saying "Karate is the ability to train your body to the point whereby you can overcome an opponent with one technique without the need of weapons." Miyagi was known for tearing bark from trees with his fingers and puncturing gas cans with his big toe.

Members of Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Kai from Arizona and Utah train together at the Arizona Hombu 
in Mesa, Arizona.
The difference between traditional karate and sports karate is linked to objectives. In traditional karate, one works for maximum power, focus and speed while emphasizing philosophy, positive affirmations, and respect for all. This is accomplished by traditions, assisting one another, training in basics (kihon), physical conditioning (junbi undo and hojo undo), forms (kata), practical applications with full force (bunkai), body hardening (shitai kori) and weapons (kobudo). In traditional karate, there are no contests. As stated by the great Okinawan Shorin-Ryu karate master, Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), "The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of its participants".

Kata training at the Arizona School of Traditional Karate
This philosophy is different from sport karate. In sport, one learns basics (kihon), forms (kata), and sparring (kumite) while training with gloves and other protective gear (in traditional karate, there is no protective gear). Kumite tends to lessen one's ability to develop powerful strikes by requiring the practitioner to use numerous strikes to try to out-point an opponent. Focus on contests and winning drives the practitioner to focus on self and trophies. One of the best examples came from Hollywood in the movie the Karate Kid which emphasized the philosophy of Miyagi-Ryu vs Cobra Kai. Remember anyone can kick and punch, but that does not make it karate or even a martial art - street-fighting is not martial art nor is MMA.

Kata training at the University of Wyoming Shorin-Ryu Karate clinic

So how does one tell the difference between these two karate systems? Look for trophies in the martial arts school. If you see trophies, you are in a sport karate school.

Try our traditional Okinawan karate and kobudo classes on the border of Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa Arizona - just east of Tempe and Phoenix. You will see a difference that a Hall-of-Fame karate instructor can do for your martial arts.

Kobudo - the art of ancient weapons, is part of karate. Karate and Kobudo are traditionally taught together. 

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