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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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Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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Is Karate a Civil Self-Defense?

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

A most excellent question brought up in an article written by Andreas Quast at the Ryukyu Bugei blog. The article was about the Itosu Ten Maxims of karate but the last line asked the question, When exactly did karate become a ‘civilian self-defence system?’

My studies, not exactly scientific or historical or translative in nature, indicate that karate was never considered as a civil self-defense system. In one aspect it was a prerequisite to training in weapons. In another aspect it was simply a fighting system. I feel strongly that the times in which karate was present was a time where conflict and violence were prominent and dominant in social connections. Most of the security people for the more upper classes and those who ruled used karate as a foundation for the use of arms to enforce security and protect the ruling classes including the King and the court members of government. 

Self-defense, as a term, seems to me a more modern use toward the social conditioning and the laws and legal systems that govern today or even in those early years when Americans were exposed to karate and martial arts, i.e., after WWII during the American occupation. 

As our modern society supposedly evolved and moved further away from the very nature of humans it created a social condition that looked badly upon types of conflict and violence whereby the resulting laws and perceptions of society and the legal systems created a need for self-defense, defense. 

It comes down to most of what is believed of karate and martial arts today, i.e., legends, ideas, and beliefs created by the ignorant American practitioners and teachers to fill in gaps they failed to assimilate or even be exposed to in order to create a commercialized sport oriented unique sellable product that exists today. It is a matter of our acculturation of karate and martial arts, i.e., in other words, we modified it and filled in the voids to fit a cultural need of individuals followed by groups whereby we borrowed those cultural traits that titilated us and attracted others merging in a process that created a newly viewed cultural belief befitting the commercial needs of most modern dojo. 

One such need that created the karate is a civil self-defense system was the victimization of others in our society causing a need to find a way toward feeling safe and secure, the self-defense industry driven by the mystique of Asian karate and martial arts. The use of civil in the self-defense grew out of the need to differentiate and sell what started as a military combative oriented sales pitch when the first dojo’s opened by those military returning home from duty in the East. As it prospered and spread then the next generation due to the loss of the draft never experienced military life and could not relate so a more civil attitude took root and today we have, “Karate is a civil self-defense.” 

Historically as I have mentioned already, there is no real evidence to show that karate at any time from the 1600’s on to present time came about for a purpose of self-defense be it civil or otherwise. In addition, there is an outstanding article by Andreas Sensei mentioned at the beginning that goes into decent historical information about translations that speak to this subject. 

Bibliography (Click the link)