28 February, 2013

Great Posts and Random Thoughts

Just wanted to provide a quick link to a great post at another blog, as well as a couple of thoughts I have read (can't claim them for my own, I am not that clever).

In addition to learning a new Japanese term, there is an interesting and good point over at The Classic Budoka.  Find it here:

In essence, the post details how and why teachers of traditional fighting arts would and did preserve their arts through deliberate deception.  This hit home, as it mentions an anecdote of a friend of his in karate whose experiences in Okinawa compared to Japan.  This makes me wonder to what degree my own training would benefit from visiting and perhaps becoming better acquainted with a teacher in Okinawa.  Who else to better provide me with the insight and serious training of the original soul of my chosen art?

This then got me thinking a bit again about something I have often pondered, and have referenced in my previous post if my memory serves.  This topic is what is the original purpose of karate?

Orthodox karate history (which like all orthodox history is popular but holds little enough fact to be frustrating to anyone who has researched) holds that karate was created out of a need for self protection against samurai.  This ignores the documented fact that karate development preceeds the Satsuma occupation.  So again, why not focus on stick weapons if blades were not allowed, akin to the development of Filipino martial arts?  I cannot imagine the use of the eku (oar) would be proscribed on a nation of islands and fisherpeoples.

I have read some articles that suggested karate was developed as a means for settling disputes or arguments between people or villages.  Somewhat like the ancestor of sumo was a more practical method than the sport it evolved into.  I should note that older karate is filled with a variety of grappling and throwing techniques, preserved largely in kata and through some lines.

Famous karateka like Sakugawa, Aragaki and Matsumura were bodyguards and involved with local police.  Perhaps the formative founders of these traditions had a particular focus along these lines, and did this influence what they studied and passed along to their students?

One might also note that a primary influence on karate was the continuous introduction of the Chinese martial arts.  Those arts were varied, but largely could be classified as fighting arts used by bodyguards and revolutionaries, as well as military and monastic orders.

So where does this leave karate?  I have my own suspicions based on what I have learned, but that is exactly the problem - what I have learned may not be "correct", or for that matter similar.  And in the end, does this matter?

If others would care to comment on what their own chosen martial art(s) mean to them, I would appreciate it.  As always, more food for thought in the quest to find the right question.

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