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. Continue reading “How & Why Traditional Martial Arts Got Dumbed Down” »

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 Continue reading “How Important Is Discipline In Martial Arts?” »

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, Continue reading “A Forgotten Use Of Hiki-Te (Pulling Hand)” »

Karate For “Perfection Of Character”: Truth Or Just Part Of The “Marketing”? – A Historical Perspective

“The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of character of its participants”.
Master Gichin Funakoshi.

The above words by Master Funakoshi, founder of Shotokan/Shotokai have been widely quoted, but I wonder if that was what his teachers had in mind.  Continue reading “Karate For “Perfection Of Character”: Truth Or Just Part Of The “Marketing”? – A Historical Perspective” »

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. Continue reading “Do You Train To Win A Fair Fight?” »

Do Our Training Methods Damage Our Bodies?

We so often hear that martial arts are good for our health and well-being, but is this always the truth?  I would say in the main . . . . yes.

However I do feel that there are exceptions.  All to often you hear of the more mature warriors amongst us having hip or knee operations.  Many (who are not professional teachers) have to give up training all together.  So if martial arts are a lifetime study (as is often said) how come the people who are left training over the age of 50 is such a small percentage.

Funakoshi, who introduced Karate from Okinawa to Japan, said in his latter years that the Karate being trained at that time in Japan was very different to the Karate of his youth. Continue reading “Do Our Training Methods Damage Our Bodies?” »

Review: A Killing Art – The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do

I have to confess that I haven’t read this book, though I would like to when I get the chance.  My brother-in-law, Martin who is a 2nd Dan TKD has read it and has highly recommended it.  Then I saw a review on my friend Bob Patterson’s Striking Thoughts blog, so I thought I would copy it here for my TKD readers.

It is along similar lines to Shotokan’s Secrets, by Dr Bruce Clayton, which is the only book that I’ve ever finished and then read again almost straight away.  Both books explore the history behind the arts in question and expose many of the so called “truths” behind the “official history” of these arts.  I do believe that it is helpful to get behind the myths of the art and get to the truth.  It helps give a bit more of an all round understanding and appreciation of the art(s) that we practice. Continue reading “Review: A Killing Art – The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do” »

What is Stav?

By guest writer: Graham Butcher:

Charlie kindly asked me to contribute to this site after our Stav demonstration in the Martial Arts Festival which was held in Bath in May 2010. After a gap of a few months I am very pleased to do so. Members of Ice and Fire Stav were honoured to take part in the Festival and since Stav is a relatively unknown training system it gave us a valuable opportunity to showcase our practice. I am also grateful for the opportunity here to explain more about Stav and shed more light on its unusual origins. Continue reading “What is Stav?” »

Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (Part 2)

Recently I wrote about Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s new book, Shotokan Myths.  Well now it is available for purchase (details below).  I have had some private correspondence with Shihan Yokota and there was one thing in particular that he said that I consider very important and I wanted to share with everybody. With so many “reality based” martial arts and the rise of mixed martial arts, many people have questioned the effectiveness and validity of the traditional martial arts.  Many Japanese masters have been secretive or aloof and have not bothered to explain the finer points, keeping Westerns on a rather superficial level.  I’ve seen some Japanese masters teach up in Scotland, UK, where they actually pretend that they can’t speak English properly when you know full well that they can (from people who have actually visited the masters own dojo). Continue reading “Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (Part 2)” »

Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (Part 1)

Shihan Kousaku Yokota, 8thDan Shotokan Karate is releasing a new book, Shotokan Myths, which should be available from mid December.

Firstly, I would like to say that so many other styles have spawned from Shotokan, that this book should be valuable to a far wider audience than just Shotokan Karateka.

So who is Shihan Kousaku Yokota? Continue reading “Shihan Kousaku Yokota’s New Book – “Shotokan Myths” (Part 1)” »