The Dangerous Myths in Karate


There is a great lie in karate, a dangerous myth purported by overconfident teachers and enthusiastic students.

The myth goes like this; "Karate is designed to make a smaller, weaker man able to defeat bigger, stronger opponents."

But doesn't that sound nice? Doesn't it sound like it could be true?


And that's the problem. The most dangerous part of a fight is underestimating your opponent. The second most dangerous thing is overestimating your own power.

We should keep in mind what Mushashi said:

Between two unskilled fighters, the chances of one winning are in favor of the larger, stronger opponent.

Between two fighters of the same size the chances of winning lay in favor of the more skilled.

If a larger unskilled opponent is fighting against a smaller, more technical fighter, it is about 50/50.

If the larger, stronger opponent is more skilled than the smaller fighter, the fight is certainly in favor of the larger, stronger man.

There is a second myth like the first, and maybe worse.

The second myth is that technique trumps strength and athleticism. Now, while most instructors won't say this, they teach it by their poor example. There are way too many so-called experts, instructors, and teachers who don't practice what they teach. I'm talking about that Taekwondo teacher who can't kick head level anymore or has a big pot belly. You know the type I'm talking about. Now, that's not to say that they won't have good coaching skills or won't be able to teach a kata. What it does mean is that their students will look at them and follow their example. This is one reason (of many) why there are so many martial arts schools around nowadays with frail individuals. This was not always the case; however, if you look at the teaching manuals and biographies of the old masters, they always included strenuous body strengthening exercises and physical conditioning.

In short, there are a few things you need to do to be a great karateka or martial artist.

1) Learn the technique.

2) Practice the hell out of the techniques so you can execute them on the fly.

3) Condition your body and mind for the rigors of fighting. All the technique in the world is no good if your body is frail.

4) Condition some more, because there's always the chance that your assailant also conditions, or is exceptionally larger or stronger.

5) Always bear in mind that you are mortal, no one is indestructible, and there is no amount of conditioning, armor, or protective gear that can make it otherwise.

Happy training karateka. You make yourself better every day through rigorous training. Keep it up.