Hello, My name is Quin, and I am here to take you on a journey through the art of Karate.
The purpose of this podcast is to share what I know of Karate. My experiences, my discoveries, and my methods of training.
I've taught Karate professionally and in private and have uncovered, through my own experimentation, the roots of a potent and effective martial art.
Tune in, and listen closely as we take this journey together to explore the forgotten mysteries of Karate.
First, let's set the stage: Why.
Why is it that Karate seems so mysterious?
Why is it that even seasoned Karateka don't understand the movements of their art?
What is Kata? What was their original purpose? And why are they still valuable today?
I want to show you not only the reason for Kata and Karate to exist historically; I want to show you that Karate holds the keys to effective full-contact fighting and self-defense.
I think it's important to understand the perspective of old Karate masters and consider each Kata's movements to have an exact intended purpose.
If you were a hardened martial arts master teaching some young ruffians how to fight, or at least to fend off a thug, you would not give them a random set of esoteric movements. You would give them a set of proven techniques. And because this is the olden days before the internet or even widespread literacy, you need to give them a way to remember these techniques to practice later.
So, what is the solution? Kata. You take your techniques and string them into a routine that can be memorized and reviewed later. From the routine, the Karateka can then extract their techniques individually and practice them. No one needs to write them down, draw pictures, photograph or video them, and they can be easily shared between individuals.
Let's take that a step further now. What if you have an entire library of martial knowledge and experience that you want to pass down to new fighters? How do you keep it organized? Consistent? And practical to transfer? You take multiple Kata, each containing their own sets of useful skills, and you teach those to up and coming Karateka.
Of course, this is my speculation. I wasn't there hundreds of years ago. But, I've come to this conclusion by putting myself into the shoes of a teacher. And from this belief, I've constructed my own methods of reading Kata and using its embedded knowledge to further my martial arts training.
Before going further, I want to emphasize that this is only the beginning. This is only the introduction to what I plan on creating. I want to take each Kata from traditional Karate and precisely show you the purpose of every movement. I want to show you realistic techniques that can be applied in full contact sparring. Nothing esoteric or mysterious. Just real, dirty, practical, reliable, fighting technique.
Okay, back on track now to answering the questions of why and what for Karate and Kata.
I believe that karate kata are meant to contain the gritty, practical, sometimes harsh techniques of proficient fighting. And not only do I believe this, but I'm also going to prove it through this podcast series.
Why then, why is it that modern-day Karate has strayed so far from the original intent, and why is it that the Kata seems so vague and mysterious?
The answer lies in the philosophy and aim of its teachers. Gichin Funakoshi, who you probably know as the "Grandfather of modern karate," is often quoted as saying, "The ultimate aim of the art of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the characters of its participants."
And it's not that perfection of character is a bad thing. Funakoshi's vision for character development has been widely received and experienced globally. But because the focus was not on preserving the intention of the old masters who created the Kata, the Kata themselves are widely misunderstood. You'll have world champion kata performers and point Kumite fighters who don't know the why of their Kata. You can watch the kata performers demonstrating bunkai (application of technique) in competitions, and it's apparent that they have no idea what's really going on in their Kata. Or at the very least, the ruleset of the competition prevents them from demonstrating the actual techniques.
Another karate master, Motobu Choki, described Funakoshi's Karate as being like a Japanese guitar. Beautiful to hear, but "hollow on the inside." Meaning that he saw what was happening to Karate as it was modernized and didn't like the changes being made. The new age karate was becoming popular because it was made beautiful, it removed risk from practice, changed the emphasis to character instead of defense, and was made accessible to a broader range of people who would accept it because of these changes.
To put it into perspective, this would be like having a beautiful library full of expensive books and never reading any of them. Or owning a race car but never driving. Anyone can look at a nice car or a nice library and appreciate it. But looking at a car doesn't mean you can drive. And walking through a library doesn't mean you can read. Nowadays, people don't want to spend countless hours in the library reading. They don't want to put in the work to understand. They just want to drive by, walk through, and somehow become better for it.
Karate, real Karate, isn't a drive-by walk-through type of experience. Real Karate is getting thrown on the ground, getting punched in the face - suffering through endless conditioning and torment to finally achieve proficiency.
Nowadays, people don't want to know how the engine works, how to change the oil, why the gasoline burns or the tires turn. They just want to look at the car, maybe drive it to the end of the driveway and back. Because heaven forbid, they drive out on the road and risk injury, or worse, waste time.
And that's it, right there, that's the next big issue: Time.
Understanding kata takes time. Anyone can learn the movements of the Kata. They can do so quickly too. But to actually understand the Kata, that's something else. You have to learn why the movements exist, what the purpose of them is, and you have to know each individual technique. But MORE, you have to test them. There has to be pressure. You have to be able to throw, sweep, choke, punch and kick an opponent who is trying to do the same to you.
And if you don't. If you don't know the meaning, then the real intent is lost. The real technique is forgotten or discarded. And that, that right there, is why we're here today. That is why I am creating this podcast series. I want to show you what Karate is. I want to show you what your Kata means. And I want you to take that knowledge, test it, prove it, and pass it on.
It's time for real Karate to come out of the shadows. The gritty, real power of Karate should be both powerful and beautiful. And it takes more than one guy teaching out of his garage or basement.
It's going to take a whole lot of people to tear down the old rotten hollow tree of modern Karate and plant a new one in its place. One with deep roots, a solid trunk, and high branches.