What is "Real Karate"?

Guisecliff, North Yorkshire
It is an uphill battle to get new students, there are so many schools around the country that it can be hard work to gain a student, then upkeep them long enough to progress a little.

It is extremely hard work convincing people that any karate is good for them, on its very basic level, it is exercise, it tones and uses all the muscles in the body.  It helps to build strength in muscles, it helps to gain lung capacity, it helps to make the mind strong.

So why do people ask is it "real karate"? Our 'karate' is known as Kong Sudo which means the same as karate.

I do not believe in "real karate", there is no such thing. The word Kara (Empty) te (hand) is a fighting system from Okinawa. The Oxford Dictionary says "An oriental system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows, widely practised as a sport."  Notice, practised as sport!  Therefore, when you practise karate, you are practising sport!  To me it is a very enjoyable sport, as well as the physical movement which helps me keep agile and strong, it is mentally challenging.  Our style asks us to remember many forms (Kata), One steps, Three steps, and grabbing defences, on top of these we can supplement our training with Staff work, sword and knife.

One of the major things our sport does is bring on confidence. It helps the practitioner feel better about themselves when they have completed a form correctly and well.  It allows you to grow as a person.  It also brings out your self control, once you can do as asked whilst performing in class, you are then allowing yourself to be disciplined. It's other great thing is Co-ordination, if you have none when you start you soon realise you can have it, if you keep trying.

So my idea of "real karate" is helping students attain their goal in life, get fitter, be more disciplined, have more self control, be self confident in our own abilities and to not fall over, that is definitely a co-ordination thing!

So many people believe that "real karate" is about fighting, about being competitive and actually hurting people!  If someone came to my class and that is what they wanted to do, then I feel I would have to turn them away.  No one wants to come and do a sport that hurts you on purpose!

We are Non Contact and Non Competitive, we do not need to hit anyone to know how hard we can punch and kick (we use pads for that).  We do not need to know we are winning, only that we are learning all the time (grading every so often is like winning).  We do not need to be told we are not doing 'real karate', our techniques are for self defence, which in theory, we would not need to use, if we are confident enough in ourselves in the first place!


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