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"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

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Is Karate Truly a Striking System?

Caveat: This article is mine and mine alone. I the author of this article assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.) 

Please make note that this article/post is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

One of the great things of our modern society is the ability to see a lot more information out there because of the technology we have, literally, at our fingertips. Since my foray into the World Wide Web, the Internet, I have moved forward knowledge/academia wise then in all the years of study before. The plethora of information out there is astounding and the only caveat is similar to the old saying, “Buyer Beware,” where it should be “Researcher Beware.” 

One of the great things about martial disciplines in modern times is all that information, knowledge, can be tested by each and every practitioner to see if it works. Once caveat, when a martial practitioner tests it to make sure it works they tend to do so only in the dojo with only a hand full that actually take it outside the dojo - usually those professionals who deal with conflict and violence in their jobs.

One of the great things about practice in our modern times is our freedom to travel great distances to find venues that will add that extra ingredient in testing to make sure something works, in a adrenal stress conditioned reality-based training scenario(s).

Ok, ok, I will get back to the point but I wanted to lay a small amount of pre-article information before I get into, “Is karate truly a striking system?”

First, yes it is but here is the rub for me, karate before it was named karate, i.e., both set of characters for “China Hand” and “Empty Hand.” The biggest fact for me that tells me “Ti or Toudi” was more than just striking is the push to put karate into the educational system. It was dumbed down and most of the other stuff that made up Ti or Toudi was, in likelihood, removed because those smart parts were about doing grave bodily harm and death to an adversary. 

Humans are pretty much alike in a lot of ways across the board and when human adults of a certain era in the time line of human existence sees conflict and violence being exposed to the young of their families the natural instinct is to protect. In the times of the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds the times and social mind-set was changing to remove as much of the ability to apply conflict and violence, violent conflicts in particular, so that when it was pushed into the educational system it was meant more to condition health and fitness wise young adults to ready them for war (kind of strange way of thinking, yes?). Even so, the removed those parts they didn’t want their children to be exposed to while at the same time exposing them to the concept that it would and was preparing them for service to the Emperor for the upcoming war. 

Now, we move forward to after the war. Most of Ti’s or Toudi’s practitioners were dead or close to it and those practicing and teaching were Ti-ka or Toudi-ka who were exposed mostly to the educational versions and already exposed to the two names of China Hand and Empty Hand. The first teachers of the American occupying forces were well inducted and indoctrinated to the more modern rendition, mandated because when the war ended the occupiers were adamant in stomping out all war like activities and that meant martial disciplines. This explains the effort of the Japanese, as the Okinawans, to change their martial heritage into something more or less non-threatening so we have “The Way” and “Sport” oriented systems, i.e., jujitsu to judo, etc. 

Ti and Toudi were changed to Kara-te to make the Japanese happy and the island karate practitioners were still heavily influenced by that educational system thereby passing that to the American Occupiers who then brought that watered down version to the U. S..

Ok, so for decades karate in the states was a “Striking Art.” Here is where the modern technological models of today are coming in to teach us the true nature of karate, taking it back, as far as possible considering all the missing history of Okinawan martial disciplines. The ability to get information out to the most people possible is now so easy it makes it possible for those who have not only learned a lot of martial disciplines but have actually taken it hands-on in a world of conflict, violence and violent conflict and bring it back to the martial disciplines so that the least effective defense in a life threatening situation, the strike, will not be the only focal point of practicing, training and applying, “Karate or Empty Hand.” 

Karate needs a lot more than the ability to strike or kick. To truly handle a self-defense situation you need the ability, think mind-set and mind-state coupled with appropriate knowledge and experience (either or both adrenal stress oriented or actual hands-on or both). To make it work you need a lot more than striking and striking, from where I sit, means using a strike of either a fist or open handed to build a compilation of different attack models (impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression) to stop the threat vs. relying solely on strikes/punches or kicks, etc. taught in edu-karate. 

This means taking the mainstay of karate, the linear head-to-head safe model of fighting, and pursuing the attack methodologies of impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression.

In other words, bring what I have come to believe of modern karate back to its historical roots as a combative fighting model for self-defense using those attack methodologies to achieve something that will work in the adrenal stress charge conditions of actual attacks both social or asocial in nature. 

The current model of karate today is a striking system but an ineffective one for self-defense but with the concerted effort of many karate-ka and many martial disciplines karate can and will return to a model that will incorporate all those attack and defense methodologies such as impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws and compression, etc. Then maybe we can rename it back to its historical origins of “Ti or Toudi.” Then again maybe find a name that will truly symbolize and represent a overall principle based model for self-defense, for fighting and for combatives. 

My hope remains high!

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