When Somebody Says, “But That’s Not Really Karate”!

This can apply equally to any traditional martial art, not just Karate.

Have you ever demonstrated a way to protect yourself (or seen somebody else do so), only to have somebody else say, “but that’s not really Karate”, (or whatever martial art you practice).  This can be particularly true when styles that are considered primarily striking arts (like Karate, Taekwondo, Kung Fu, etc) start using grappling applications like throws, locks, restraints, escapes and the likes.  People can be quick to pigeon-hole what they consider to be part of a martial art or not to be part of it.

Are they right to do so?  Does this keep a martial art ‘pure’, so that they don’t all just merge into each other?

I’m sorry to say, but that kind of thinking is really missing the point.  Originally, the martial arts were to protect the practitioners life; so can you imagine somebody back then saying something like, “I’m not using that technique as it’s not from my style”!  Of course they wouldn’t; they’d absorb anything that might save their lives. Read more

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Bruce Lee – Martial Arts Genius; But Were All His Ideas New?

Bruce Lee was an exceptionally accomplished and talented martial artist.  He was also very influential in popularising martial arts in the West, as well as making people already training in martial arts question what they were doing.  I have a huge respect for Bruce, but in all honesty, I can’t go along with the almost God like reverence that some people hold him in.  Bruce LeeHe is often quoted in a way that suggests his word should be the final word on all things martial arts.  But there are many very senior and knowledgeable masters out there who know just as much, yet have a different approach.  There is always more than one route.  Also, many of the things that Bruce Lee taught was common philosophy in the East, but he was just the first Asian master to open up that philosophy to the West (or at least, the first who had a media following to reach the wider public). Read more

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Do Traditional Martial Arts Really Work Under Pressure?

This is an old chestnut that keeps going around every now and again; do traditional martial arts really work under pressure in the street?

Many people argue that they don’t, after all, we’ve all heard of a story where a black belt in whatever style ends up getting beaten up by a street fighter.  There are also lots of stories of martial artists, some even quite low grade, who have used their martial arts to successfully defend themselves.  Which story you quote depends on which side of the debate you’re on.

Now when you consider that there are literally millions of people around the world who practice martial arts, just by the law of averages there are bound to be some who are successful in defending themselves and some who are not.  So until somebody can come up with some studies and statistical data (I’m not aware of anybody doing so yet) I think we have to be careful how much we read too much into such stories. Read more

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Comparison Of Bare Knuckle Boxing/Pugilism & Traditional Martial Arts

I was a little intrigued recently when I came across the picture below on Facebook depicting a bare knuckle prize fight that took place in 1877.  What intrigued me was that the punch being delivered looks a lot more like a punch that we’d find in Karate/Taekwondo/some styles of Kung Fu, than it does a modern boxing punch!  The back is straight, head up, legs are practically identical to our forward stance, hips turned square on and shoulder not turned in as much as a modern boxers.  Read more

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Kiai/Kihap/Chi Shout – Is It Really Necessary?

Many martial arts, especially the Oriental ones include the practice of shouting at certain points in training.  Japanese styles call it Kiai, Korean styles call it Kihap.  I don’t know what the Chinese word for it is, but I have trained with some who simply called it Chi Shout.  For simplicity, I’m just going to stick the Japanese notation of Kiai (as I’m primarily a Japanese stylist and it’s the version I’m most familiar with)!

First of all, what is it?  Very simplistically, it’s a Read more

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Martial Arts Techniques As A “Shorthand” For Learning Principles

Some of the newer and more reality based martial arts which emphasise real self protection (as opposed to sport) such as Krav Maga and Systema argue that the strength of their system is that they emphasise principles of movement rather than techniques.  They argue that most of the older Oriental martial arts by contrast put the emphasis the other way round, on techniques more than principles.  They argue that this makes their arts better for learning self defence more quickly and effectively. Read more

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