Kendo: the shift in Karate mentality and competition

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by Hotora86, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    I think that any Karateka who has seen both the old-school Okinawan and modern Japanese / WKF versions of his art often ponders - how did we go from a no BS civilian self-defese system that emphasized body conditioning, limb control and takedowns (http://www.karateobsession.com/2015/03/karate-limb-control.html) to gratuitous amounts of unorthodox high kicks, bunny hopping and sniping touch-points...

    SPOILER: it's because of Kendo (gross oversimplification but bear with me please).

    I've seen Kendo mentioned as "one of the influences" on Japanese (and modern) Karate but only recently it dawned on me just how impactful and decisive that influence has been. The below text from Black Belt Magazine describes the matter almost perfectly, so I'll just post it here in its entirety.


    IKKEN HISSATSU: THE KENDO-KARATE CONNECTION

    If you practice any form of Japanese karate, you need to understand that one of the most significant influences on your martial arts training has been kendo. Virtually all senior Japanese karate instructors in the West have been influenced by it since the 1960s. Sometimes the influences are conscious, other times they’re not. Over the years, I’ve rarely met a Western karateka who’s practiced kendo or even knows much about it. This lack of technical skill is not important. What is important is that you understand how much kendo flavor there is apt to be in your karate.

    Ikken hissatsu, or “killing with a single blow,” is a fundamental concept in many karate dojo. Even if it’s recognized as an ideal rather than a practical end, students strive to make the perfect punch, the one that will end the conflict. Many of them may consider this a distinguishing feature of karate, but it’s not. It’s appeared in the lore of karate only recently—not because of anything Okinawan but because of kendo.

    Ikken hissatsu is a very real possibility when you have a sword in your hands. For the samurai, a single kendo technique could finish things. The shape of the sword caused it not just to cut but also to split flesh open, creating gaping wounds. It didn’t take much of a strike to kill an opponent. Swordsmen went into fights fully aware of this, and it bred a certain mentality.

    When the Okinawans introduced karate to Japan, a number of cultural factors were in play. A samurai with a sword regarded a karateka the way a Green Beret with an M4 rifle might regard an opponent with a stick. Japanese society was an armed one. The people looked on unarmed combat as a practice for country bumpkins. To overcome that perception, early karate leaders tried to connect their art to arts that were familiar to the Japanese. Additionally, kendo was extremely popular in the early 20th century. Most schoolboys trained in it, and the police practiced it avidly. The Japanese were accustomed to “thinking” in kendo. So it’s natural that young men taking up the new karate would bring that mentality to the dojo. Of course, in the case of “killing with a single blow,” it helped karate’s image to be pictured as so lethal that a single punch could cause death.

    While the motivations and perceptions of senior karate teachers and enthusiastic students are understandable, karate isn’t kendo. The culture in which it developed is different from the culture that spawned kendo in several critical ways. There’s little evidence that a fight was meant to be settled with a single blow when karate was practiced in Okinawa. If you’re training to accomplish such a feat and enter into contests with that in mind, it’s going to have an effect on your karate.

    It’s difficult, probably futile, to point to a “typical Okinawan karate.” Methods and techniques were varied, of course. We can surmise, looking at many of the forms that still exist there, however, that the aim of much of Okinawan karate has always been to close in and combine grappling with striking techniques that render the opponent helpless, then further incapacitate him with strikes. There are stories of single-blow knockouts in the lore of Okinawan karate, but very little in the training at most Okinawan dojos reflects this as a primary goal.

    In Okinawa, the combat influences of other striking arts on karate have been overwhelmingly southern Chinese kung fu, where a series of rapid strikes is typically employed. Practitioners unleash blow after blow in a strategy aimed at getting at least one through any person’s defenses. The concept of killing with a single hit wasn’t introduced until long after karate had matured.

    So what? Arts change. Karate’s exposure to Western boxing led to changes, and scientific weight training has been introduced in many dojos. While it’s true that the kendo-influenced notion of killing with a single strike is just one of many influences exerted on karate, in each of these cases, it has meant change. In particular, ikken hissatsu brought a whole new dimension to karate competition in 1930s Japan. Where karateka once exchanged karate techniques, giving and receiving in a flowing rhythm, this rhythm was broken with contests. Opponents tended to space themselves farther apart, move around each other, look for an opening and then try to make a decisive strike that would win the bout. In other words, they began to look and think like kendoka.

    Modern karateka need to consider this influence. Is it a good one? A bad one? Somewhere in between? Maybe the way you answer those questions isn’t as important as whether you understand how the change occurred in the first place and what it means to your training today.

    Source: https://blackbeltmag.com/arts/karate/ikken-hissatsu-the-kendo-karate-connection/
    Also: http://www.cnkendo-da.com/2017/08/31/karate-vs-kendo-comparative-analysis/


    Discuss?
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
  2. Chesten_Hesten

    Chesten_Hesten The Wiener of Steel

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    Yes.

    Plus Kendo goons will hit you with a stick quickern'd a cat can lick his ass!

     
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  3. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    Good read. Also to take into consideration is the demand of the times rather than culture shift. Obv. a more war era time period, things will be drastically different compared to a flourishing wealthy society. As you prob already know karate had more "dirty" stuff and less kicking compared to today. Its just the adaptation. If you tried running a school with old school methods today, you get dat lawshuit on your hands.

    A modern example is BJJ, went from teh streetz and anti-everything to the game that is sport BJJ. Its gotten to the point of people who have never dealt with striking but stick specifically to winning the game in chu gif shoes (it should also be noted quite a few are delusional thinking they can displace an exp'd striker with butt scooting and no striking exp cause a top guy can do it)
     
  4. Gregolian

    Gregolian .45 ACP Platinum Member

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    Fucking nitto users. ARGH!
     
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  5. panamaican

    panamaican Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    Good read. Also relevant is that they minimized the grappling in karate so as not to put themselves into competition with Judo.
     
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  6. Gregolian

    Gregolian .45 ACP Platinum Member

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    They minimized the historic grappling in kendo as well I think for the same reason.

    Super old school clubs you'll routinely get put on your ass with a goofy double leg/trip from in close.

    EDIT:
    Like, this was (is if I go back given my knee injury is all cleared up) the dojo I was a part of and there is an ability to trace the "lineage" if you can call it that all the way back to pre WWII US and Japanese "schools".

     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  7. shinkyoku

    shinkyoku Brown Belt

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    The first karate clubs in mainland Japan was usually sharing dojo, and to a great extent practitioners, with kendo and judo dojos. Karate grappling was similar, but not as refined as the judo the students already knew. Not surprising, the karate teacher focused on the punches and kicks (which incidentally effectively vanished from judo at about the same time)

    "The karate that has been introduced to Tokyo is actually a single
    part of a larger whole. The fact that those who have learned karate in
    Tokyo think that it consists only of hand strikes and kicks, and that
    throws and joint locks are only a part of jujutsu or judo can only be
    attributed to their lack of awareness on this art. "
    -Kenwa Mabuni, ca 1925,
     
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  8. shincheckin

    shincheckin Brown Belt

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    after a lifetime of training and nearing the "top of the mountain" I can easily see that karate is great stuff and majorly overlooked and underrated. I wish I didnt overlook it for so long! the thing is, it has such a "karate nerd" stigma with it etc etc that it doesnt attract many of the type of people that want to fight. I could have done it when i was younger but wanted to box instead because karate was for "wimps". Now......I wish i would have done it way back when.
     
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  9. panamaican

    panamaican Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I think it really depends on how you're introduced to it and by whom.
     
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  10. j123

    j123 Pro Sherdogger 500-0-1

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    Karate ducking judo like McNuggets ducking Khabib
     
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  11. KBE6EKCTAH_CCP

    KBE6EKCTAH_CCP Arrow sash belt with Lederhosen

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    Cool thread.

    Interesting that Karate was influenced by kendo and boxing was influenced by fencing.
     
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  12. shincheckin

    shincheckin Brown Belt

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    thats probaby very true I bet.

    in my youth I can remember the general impression of karate being something like "karate nerd" rather than dangerous kyokushinkai. They werent really looked at as fighting sports like boxing for example. This has probably alot to do with one, people being ignorant to karate and the other being karate getting watered down much in the same manner muay thai has to create more business. lastly i think that in order to understand the effectiveness of karate, you have to be experienced in martial arts already. Meaning a brand new beginner, or your random dude that wanders into UFC gym because he wants to train "UFC" if you ask them what they think of karate they will say it sucks.......but thats because "most ppl dont know shit about boxing....i mean karate" this is all just my opinion of course I could be wrong, do you agree with me?
     
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  13. shincheckin

    shincheckin Brown Belt

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    followed dudes webpage and youtube, good stuff
     
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  14. panamaican

    panamaican Senior Moderator Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I agree. When I started training karate, it was with a small group (3) of older guys with military and law enforcement backgrounds and 1 woman who had travelled and trained MT in Thailand for a few years alongside her karate. We did all the standard katas and kihon and stuff but it was always with their life experiences in mind. So when I heard people talk about karate as this distance based striking art, it was weird to me because I'd always trained it as an in close grappling and striking hybrid art. I didn't learn to defend the common stepping punch, I learned how to defend the boxer's jab. We did a lot of drills that came from law enforcement, just with a karate emphasis.

    If I'd started with the stereotyped version that you run into out there where it's a room of 2 dozen people of varying athletic abilities and very little real life experience with conflict, I might not have found the art as satisfying.
     
  15. MadSquabbles500

    MadSquabbles500 Gold Belt

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    Where is the cliff notes?

    <{hfved}>

    <{cum@me}>

    <41>
     
  16. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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  17. shinkyoku

    shinkyoku Brown Belt

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  18. ARIZE

    ARIZE Blue Belt

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    For me, it was mostly like shincheckin said... In our mind, you had 3 types of "fighters":
    Guys from the streets
    Guys doing KickBox, MT and Boxing
    And "Belt" arts...

    We had no respect for the later ones... In our mind it was a joke, a nerd thing. Legit guys from the street where the scariest dudes and feared. And for the B KB and MT ones, we had respect...
    But nothing for the karatekas (anyone wearing a kimono and a belt was a karateka for us)
    And that made it worst by seen little kids with black belts.
    When I was younger, black belt had a mystic aura to it... I thought only people mastering an art had them. As a teen, that went away real quick, when I realize they gave them away just for time spending in a place, and that a lot of them couldn't hold their own against a basic thug or a 2 year serious kickboxing practitioner...

    Now I understand a bit better about the belt system, and i know how legit some of this arts are... But it's still strange to me, when a 12y old kid can have a black belt in one of those.

    @Hotora86

    Nice thread...
     
  19. Hotora86

    Hotora86 by armbar

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    Thanks. And I have to agree with you about kids with black belts. I understand that this would be quite damaging to the "business side" of running a dojo but I wouldn't allow black belt testing before the age of 16 - you know, when you're at least "adult-sized". I've seen "junior black belts" in some dojos but that's just confusing - are you a black belt or not? Is it like an interim belt and you get promoted to "adult black belt" when you hit 16? :p Weird.

    I think Judo actually got it figured out, at least in the US and UK:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rank_in_Judo
     
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  20. shincheckin

    shincheckin Brown Belt

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    exaclty, the karate people would get beat up, so when we heard karate, we would usually just blow it off. I actually did the same thing with MT when I was boxing ( i started out in boxing) I didnt know anything about it or its effectiveness. To me it was like "karate". I can specifically remember a friend of mine, when we became friends and he told me he does MT I was like yeah great, I box.... kicking is for pussies. This friend of mine im speaking about is Marong May pro MT fighter. So he could have easily laid me out at the time, but I had no idea of it due to my ignorance.
     
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