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Thread: Shotokan Karate: What Happened?

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    Default Shotokan Karate: What Happened?

    I just wrote an article examining the differences between Funakoshi's art, and the art that would later be attributed to him forever.

    http://waxingonoff.blogspot.com/2014...funakoshi.html
    D. Fiorello

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    Nice article, thanks.
    LGatling

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    Default Interesting Article

    An interesting article. I would like to have seen a little more depth (quotes, examples comparing stances/techniques).

    Like yourself, I am a traditionalist and would prefer to study what is historically passed down rather that what is the flavour of the day. Having said that, one would have to ask, how can you make it better if you leave? Each practitioner is a part of the whole. Although a dojo might not teach the techniques and katas of old, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. Your presence and practice could inspire others to look more deeply into their style.

    [As a side note, your article would carry more weight if you could remove the judgments on the style and instructors. Presenting your case will make it self evident what could be described as 'bad' and/or watered down.]

    I look forward to reading further drafts of your article.

    -Lawrence Fowler
    Lawrence Fowler

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    Hello,

    I wrote a similar piece for a German karate forum years ago. You can find it here:

    http://www.karate-news.de/smfalt/ind...e;topic=2045.0

    It is based on my research using Japanese primary sources etc.

    Regards,

    Henning Wittwer

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    Dear Fiorello Sensei,
    I like your blog and agree with your point in general but I do think you are slightly overstating your case.
    Taikyoku kata are still widely practiced. They are vitally important in Kyokushinkai and among Funakoshi Sensei's students that formed Shotokai they are also practiced.

    Tamashiwara I know in one of the Shotokan articles in Classical Fighting Arts Magazine there was a picture of Funakoshi Sensei actually participating in a board break. Wish I could find it. I agree it was never supposed to be center stage of karate but I don't think he meant it as wrong.

    Makawara All I can say is a seldom see one in an American dojo of any style, but I do use my improvised one in the back yard all the time.

    Respectfully,
    Len McCoy

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    Well, Bones (McCoy)
    First off, I'm no Sensei. I am just a student seeking truth, I do not profess to be teaching anyone anything. You can certainly understand that one must make a strong case to make a case at all. I wouldn't go so far as to say Taikyoku are widely practiced. As I mentioned, some people do practice them (myself included in a 'non' Shotokan school). But your example of Kyokushinkai practicing them actually illustrates my point, not contests my point. I think it is disrespectful that a completely different system under a different founder is the only place (granted, among the few places) that preserve those teachings. For my purpose it is unimportant if it was Gichin or his son that actually made the kata, it was Gichin that promoted them and incorporated them in the system. I have never seen Funakoshi break anything, but my stance is not imaginary, it is literally Funakoshi's words that breaking is not Karate. I say he thinks it is 'wrong' because he literally said 'are we not disappointed that such things as the breaking of boards and tiles, or jumping and bouncing around, are recently mistakenly thought to be the essence of karate-do?' My only point is that Funakoshi was disappointed that Karate was becoming popular for the wrong reasons. Breaking is fine, but not the goal. And it is wrong to promote Karate as a means to that end, or to train for the ability to break things. And it did become the goal, people started learning Karate with a 'I want to do that' mentality with no understanding of anything beyond the exhibitions. As for makiwara, if you find an Okinawan-style Dojo without a makiwara, you are not in an Okinawan-style Dojo. There is simply nothing more important to Okinawan Karate. And I celebrate your effort to enhance your personal training by using one though your dojo lacks it. Not everyone is so concerned with their training as to take it upon themselves to go beyond what the Dojo offers.

    And to Mr. Fowler, I wish it was the case that 'presenting my case will make it self evident what could be described as 'bad' and/or watered down.' but I cannot place my confidence in that as the very point of the article is that Funakoshi tried exactly that and failed.
    Thanks for reading, I appreciate everyone's time and comments.
    -Dayne
    D. Fiorello

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    IMO....good article...interesting.

    I do more of a Goju/Naha flavor and I can see some the same things you mention.

    Thank you for posting the link.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

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    Good article. As a side note, Classical Fighting Arts #50, also just published part 1 of a two part article about this same thing as well. they leaned heavily towards his son making certain changes with the art.
    "Hard won, buy easy lost. True karate does not stay where it is not being used."

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    Smile

    Hi,
    Sorry I am a bit late to this particular thread, but I would like to add some of my views.

    Thank you for posting the article, I found it interesting.

    here are some of my ramblings on the article and replies:

    It was mentioned in a reply that Kyokushin use the Taikyoku kata and it was further remarked that a different founder of a different style uses them, bear in mind that Funakoshi taught Oyama and so those are carried on from Funakoshi's teachings.

    The original stances you mention are very similar to those still used in Kyokushin today, the Kyokushin kokutsu dachi is as the picture on the first book... again a Funakoshi legacy.

    The hand techniques you mention, (apologies, I don't know all the English terms you mentioned). most are still used in Kyokushin today,
    haito, shuto, ryotoken, oyayubiken, nihon nukite, yohon nukite, toho, etc. etc all still very evident in Kyokushin today.

    In essence, Kyokushin (excluding the knockdown & tameshiwari) is probably more like the original Shotokan than most Shotokan or Kyokushin practitioners would care to admit

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    If I wanted a view into early Shotokan I would be more tempted to look into Wado Ryu minus the Jiu Jitsu curriculum. But that is just me.
    Ed Boyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by CEB View Post
    If I wanted a view into early Shotokan I would be more tempted to look into Wado Ryu minus the Jiu Jitsu curriculum. But that is just me.
    I wouldn't argue that point, lots of similarities.

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    I like the article and agree with it generally, but my experience has been that there is a big differnece between the Shotokan one often sees at the local YMCA or rec center and serious Shotokan karate-do. Almost every serious Shotokan practitioner I know hits the makiwara for example, but since there is a strong amateur/club movement among Shotokan teachers (by which I mean that most Shotokan classes outside the hombu and the big regional dojo are part-time affairs taught by sensei who have day jobs) most makiwara are found in the sensei's home dojo and not at the community center, school gyms and other public venues where Shotokan is most often taught. I also think that most traditional Shotokan incorporates throwing, often in the form of dynamic ashi-barai coupled with strikes (but you are correct that official syllabi often lack those things and Funakoshi's "nine throws" aren't part of any grading syllabus that I've seen), but again at the local YMCA one often doesn't see this dynamic aspect of karate.

    I've spent years defending Shotokan as a complete martial art. I don't do that anymore - simply because I no longer believe that any art is complete; they all sacrifice something in favor of something else. I do believe, however, that Shotokan is as comprehensive an art as any other given the right instruction and focus. Over the years Shotokan has been panned for its bad bunkai, but what I've found is that the bad bunkai is usually on the video, but not the dojo floor (that's where the good stuff is found), it's been maligned for an emphasis on sport karate, but take a look at the WKF which is dominated by wado-ryu and shito-ryu guys - I'll take Shotokan over that any day, and it's currently in vogue to snub Shotokan for not being "Okinawan" enough. Whatever floats your boat, I guess, but for me I wouldn't trade the years I've sweated it out in Shotokan classes for anything. Dave Hooper recently had a good review of training at the JKA Honbu in Classical Fighting Arts magazine where he described the training as tough and innovative, yet presented within a traditional framework, that, I think, is the essence of good Shotokan.

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    Bunkai is terrible in Shotokan because much of the kata mechanics have been stretched out and been rendered mechanically unsound.... but so what. Shotokan doesn't need bunkai.

    If you want to punch through "eye vector" and take someone's head off with oi tzuki then Shotokan is good stuff. My brother is Shotokan and he has beat the Hell out of and broken many a makiwara. He is 64 now. I still don't to be hit by him.

    Bunkai?..... a few Judo lessons will fix that.
    Ed Boyd

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    Bunkai in Shotokan is all over the place as far as quality and substance goes. Some one mentioned they never recieved bad bunkai in the dojo. I'm going to second that. I've never recieved bad bunkai training. Think it depends a lot on the instructor and the organization.

    several things are going on in refrence to Bunkai and Shotokan Karate

    I don't know about Funakoshi O-Sensei but it is known that Nakayama Sensei through various print sources struggled with where and when to teach bunkai.
    He believed that only when the kyhon waza was mastered that the bunkai was taught. So in print media we see only the basic kyhon in application.

    Unfortunatly, Master "XYZ" of McDojo USA broke away JKA, ISKF etc for "whaterver reasons" before learning the actual Bunkai, and now guesses using all the wrong sources... or does the "Monkey see Monkey do" and first monkey got it wrong from the start. (you see that a lot on ythe internet......)

    Also Shotokan Bunkai has been subjected Japanese culture. Sensei says "Do Gedan Bari till I tell you to stop" Kyu replies "Ok......" then silence/no explination till the Sensei believes the kyu has internalized the movent to a reflexive prowess. (how long this will take.... is up to the individual) This can cause issues if the Kyu doesn't know why he's doing Gedan Bari over and over and over... In many cases the westerner interpets this way of teaching as basic or believeing the instructor or method is suspect.

    Probably the biggest factor is that Shotokan got to big... You got too many people teaching it that have no real qualifications. But that can happen with just about any MA. I've been in a few Non Shotokan karate Dojos where practitioners when they Kumite just kick box, and Kata is just a dance.

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    Hello,

    A simple fact is that G. Funakoshi (1868-1957) did not use the term "bunkai" in his Japanese writings. He certainly used the term "kumite" ...

    Regards,

    Henning Wittwer

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