Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Modern Violence and Karate

The key to understanding old school karate and their training methods is violence. Not the type of violence that most people are aquainted with, such as movies, television and sporting matches, but social and asocial violence. Violence is what links the past and the present.

The past is filled with such extreme violence that in comparison the conflicts of today look about as dangerous as chamomile tea. Any injury could become infected and lead to death, or cripple you and cause you and your family to starve due to lack of income. The stakes were much higher in the past. They didn't have many of the safety stops that we enjoy in the first world, such as medicine, law and order, and welfare. However, the criteria for surviving in those conditions are very similar to surviving a violent conflict today. Avoidance and ruthless efficiency.

Even old manuals on civil self defense arts mention the importance of avoiding conflict and escape. Along with behavioral rules to be respectful, to mind your manners and to keep your mouth shut. It's not empty character building. It's how you stay out of fights and survive. If you're nice, respectful and courteous to everyone you meet, the conflicts you have with people drop significantly. According to Marc MacYoung, the best indicator that you're about to be attack is you're being an asshole.

The physical part is very similar as well. The opponent should be downed in one move. The longer the conflict goes on the chances of injury and death go way up. Attack and defense must be simultaneous and you must have a handful of moves ingrained so deep that you act automatically.

Reading about modern day violence is what made me understand karate the most. I suggest that if you want to study karate more deeply you look to modern texts on violence, social behavior and crime. It's a bridge to the past.

Keep in mind that this is not an endorsement of karate for self defense. Karate can be used for self defense, but it must be remembered that karate was developed during the 19th century in Okinawa. The moral, ethical and legal ramifications are different for that time period and environment than the time and place we live now. Know your laws.