Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Artificial Barrier of Belts and Organization

Karate is an idea. No one owns karate and once you know a karate kata it can't be taken away from you. It's yours for as long as you remember it. This makes it open to everyone. It's not complex enough to hold a monopoly on the knowledge, because there just isn't that much to remember.

This can pose a problem if you want a monopoly on karate instruction, because nothing about karate necessitates a teacher. Remember kata was kept secret. Funakoshi recounts a person demonstrating a kata with all the windows blocked so no one could see him. Secrecy is one way to guard the knowledge, but now karate is everywhere. Every town, on youtube, it is open to the public. This means that other barriers of entry need to be put in place. This is where organizations and belts come into play. By making an argument to authority, and not skill, reason and experience, you force people to go to a dojo and get evaluated by your organization before granting titles etc. This creates an artificial barrier to practicing karate.