Karate To Survive in the U.S. in the 21st Century.
by, 03-29-2013 at 10:29 (7354 Views)
Karate to survive in the U.S. in the 21st Century.I decided to write this after considerable thought about Karate, it’s transmission, and survivability in U.S. This is more prevalent now with the advent of MMA and people’s perception of “real world scenarios” or “street self defense.” I could argue that most people have these perceptions wrong, but unfortunately that isn’t going to help get students in the door or help spread the art of karate.
For some of these suggestions to work one must think outside the box. Also, one must break away from what they perceive to be “traditional” way of teaching. One can teach and train in good solid karate unchanged the way it is or was taught in Okinawa, but with the American mentality. That is the crux of this writing, the American mentality or personality if you will. We are a culture of “now”, of immediate gratification, or for lack of a better term, impatience. Instead of trying to change that in your students or potential students work with it and use it to your advantage.
Lets start with kata. In Okinawa or in a traditional setting one would learn kata and the sensei would have the student memorize the kata, have them perform the kata, but wouldn’t teach any of the applications or bunkai until much later. This is due to either the feeling that students are not ready or that they must figure it out on their own. Unfortunately in our culture the majority of the students are going to quit. We are a culture of “why’s.” With control and without detracting from the overall class “whys” can be answered and demonstrated. Once can teach at the level of the student. If a karate sensei is well versed in their system then they know that there are multitudes of bunkai for a given technique in a kata. I like Iha sensei’s philosophy and method of teaching bunkai. That is, there is a beginner bunkai and an advanced bunkai. I also firmly believe that demonstrating the occasional bunkai the student has a better understanding of what they’re doing in the kata.
Now to self-defense: Self defense as a karateka is strongly tied to our kata. Again this must be taught from the beginning and shown to the student that karate has good practical self-defense. If one goes into boxing, MMA gym, or other type of what’s described as a “combative” sport one will get from the beginning applicable and obvious techniques. Karate must do the same. A potential student does not want to wait until six months down the road to be able to perform basic techniques in a potential self-defense situation. Eventually the techniques must be slowly worked up in speed and strength and with resistance. A thousand punches in sumo stance on the first day, while that may work in Okinawa, will run most of your students out the door pretty quick.
Sparring or fighting: You have to fight, of course with control and protective gear. The old adage of “Well, we didn’t have gear when I was coming up in the ranks.” Isn’t going to cut it. One, in our litigious society that will get you sued if someone gets hurt. Here (U.S.) you need insurance and most insurance won’t cover you unless your students have protective gear. Two, we are dealing with people that have to get up in the morning and go to their jobs the next day. They’re not professional fighters. Again, this can be done slowly and build people's confidence with patience and techniques.
All the above can be done and will work without sacrificing the intergrity of your art. You are still teaching your art, it’s basics, kata, and curriculum but in a different format. For it to work ego has no place within ones teachings. One must be able to adapt and be unselfish in ones teachings.