Posted: 09 Oct 2019 05:00 AM PDT
Yep, you got it, another inspiration to write an article on my favorite subject, martial arts and in particular karate for self-protection. This time, as you can imagine, it’s about the proverbial belief that one who practices karate, or any martial art for that matter, as a way of life.
First, karate-do (空手道) as defined at tangorin.com is translated into an English definition of, “the way of karate; karate.” What is, exactly, the WAY of KARATE? For every karate-ka in the martial arts communities there are as many different definitions and philosophies as to what the way of karate means.
What does the “Way of Karate” mean, simple - it depends. Like all philosophical beliefs that philosophy depends on a slew of factors to each individual. It is something you already thought of but there are a slew of factors each of us will use to decide what it all means.
To start, here is a link to a vBlog by Iain Abernethy Sensei on this very subject. It is short and to the point. And with everything Abernethy Sensei does, it is done well… you might say it is done with flair, personality and dedication and a love for the art and way that is karate, a martial art.
Now, back to MEEEE, hehehe, I take a literal look at the phrase and ideograms/characters in that the way, the path of karate if you will is literally about the study, practice, training and application of karate or empty hand. There are no real philosophical concepts to the root practice because it is a physical endeavor that people involve themselves in for a variety of reasons with one that stands out. The ‘one’ is learning how to fight, how to defend and protect against an aggressive adversary bent on doing you harm, grave harm.
It wasn’t till the time of Funakoshi Sensei and his compatriots in the world of Okinawan karate that a more philosophical aspect was born, i.e., late 1800’s maybe and surely the early 1900’s along with the educational versions being implemented for social and political reasons in a time of war or near war.
All martial arts originally were simply a means to do harm to others before they did harm to you and add in all the ancient political and social reasons you can readily visualize the brutality and deadly need for such systems of martial skill and prowess.
So, if that and other concepts are acceptable then we must ask the question as it relates not to ancient times but to modern times, times that began with Funakoshi Sensei and his morphing of Okinawan karate to Japanese karate.
Funakoshi Sensei kept it pretty simple, “The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the perfection of character of its participants.” Quoted in Abernethy Sensei’s Facebook vBlog presentation.