Shotokan Karate’s Legacy (Strengths And Weaknesses)

Shotokan Karate is a bit of a “marmite” style.  As the marmite advert says, you either love it or you hate it.

Before going into any discussion on any style at all, it has to be acknowledged that as it spreads throughout the world, approaches will vary and be altered.   Some teachers will add things, other teachers will take things out, some will teach it really well, others will teach it poorly.  So we are not really able to say “this is how it is” as it can vary quite widely from association to association or even club to club.  So as with any post of this type, we must acknowledge that there will be some broad generalisations and that there will be exceptions.

Also, the thrust of this post will be the strengths and weaknesses of Shotokan Karate as a form of self protection; not as a combat sport or form of self improvement so I won’t be talking about how well it does or doesn’t do in the cage! Read more

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How & Why Traditional Martial Arts Got Dumbed Down

Many of the traditional martial arts that we train today have been dumbed down from the effective combat method that they originally used to be.  There are a number of social and political reasons.  The following is a broad generalisation as even within a given system, different masters would have taken various different paths.  This post is just an overview and is not intended to be exhaustive. Read more

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How Important Is Discipline In Martial Arts?

This post was actually stimulated by a conversation with one of my former instructors, Sensei Graham Mead, a man from whom I learnt a great deal and who I hold in very high regard. Unfortunately Sensei Mead no longer teaches due to health issues, but an older tiger is still a tiger!

Since I started teaching regularly in 2012, Sensei Mead has honoured me with a few visits to my Dojo to see how my school is getting on.  During the recent conversation, discussing the deeper meanings of martial arts philosophy over a few beers (as one does) it became apparent that Read more

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A Forgotten Use Of Hiki-Te (Pulling Hand)

When I first started Karate, most people, especially our Oriental masters, would teach that the primary function of the Hiki-Te hand (the one that pulls back to the hip) was to increase the power of the other hand going out in a punch/strike/block.  This is undoubtedly a useful training method for beginners as it helps to teach them to rotate their hips and as such this explanation was not questioned very much in the early days.

However, Read more

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Do You Train To Win A Fair Fight?

A little while ago on the BunkaiJutsu Facebook page, I put on the following quote by Gichin Funakoshi:-

“When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defence techniques should be considered. Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him, concentrating one’s whole strength in one blow to a vital point, and in the moment of surprise, escape and seek shelter or help. It is most important to be on guard without becoming excited and to act with presence of mind throughout the situation from the beginning and even once the situation is in hand.
When delivering the one blow against the attacker, the importance of using one’s whole strength and being especially accurate cannot be overemphasized”.
Gichin Funakoshi, from his book Karate-Do Kyohan,

It generated quite a bit of interest and comment, so I thought I’d explore it a bit further.  What is easy to over-look here is that it shows a very different ethos and approach to how we are taught in most traditional martial arts today. Read more

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