Lately I’ve been very preoccupied with the evolution of Karate and how time changed not only the physical aspect but also its philosophy. However, I’m writing this article because I see people are rigid when it comes to change something in their Karate. And this happens even if what they are teaching or practicing is wrong or off the standard line. It’s no mystery that modern day Karate is not equal with the same stile from the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s. Why this happened? Well there are many reasons why changes appeared, but from my point of view the most important aspect is that Karate is in a never ending state of progression. But why we have this never ending process in evolution of Karate?
Lets take it one at a time:
We have more knowledge in every science field then we had twenty years ago. As a result we have better understanding of the human body and its biomechanics which eventually lead to minor changes in order to improve efficiency or to reduce the risk of injuries
While in the past the main purpose of Karate was self-defense, modern day Karate is mainly based on competitions where looking good and being fast is the main aspect opposed to the past. For most people the main purpose when talking about Karate is winning tournaments. But 20 or 30 years ago efficiency was the main purpose. And we all know that in order to be efficient one must find the proper balance between fast, strong, technique, agility, etc. Looking good and being fast may not be enough in a real situation.
Every association of federation has his own small changes. The high number of Karate federations and associations we know today is the clearly the result of non-understanding and different opinions, regardless we speak about how techniques or kata should be executed or we speak about what they think is better for Karate. But this is a subject I don’t to discuss as I’m not into politics. I will only like to add that I follow the JKA even if the club where I practice is affiliated to a different federation.
Many times people say “this is not good” right from the start, without even trying. I think it will only be fair if we first give it a try and see ourselves if it works or not. Of course, sometimes things are obvious but there are many cases when the truth is different.
Going back to the evolution of the Art of Karate, my only concern is that Traditional Karate does not get swallowed by sport Karate federations. If this happens it will put an end to Karate, as it happened with Tae Kwan Do at the Olympics – which lookes more like a tag game then a real Martial Art.
If I will sum this article in one line I will go with a quote from the great Bruce Lee: Absorb what is useful, discharge what is useless.
Thank you for reading! As usual if you have questions, requests or different opinion please let me know via email George@ShotokanKarateDiary.com, or just leave a comment bellow. I will answer it as fast as possible.
All the best,