I have been reading blogs on this for over 5 years now. There are many arguments for Karate to be included into the Olympic games and many against it. As of today, August 3, 2016 Karate officially became and Olympic sport and will debut in the games in Tokyo in 2020. Out of all the blogs out there on this topic many people have missed a major point on why this is great for traditional systems of Karate.
For many years now parents have enrolled their kids into programs that call themselves Karate but in essence aren’t. Students of all ages have trained in systems that claim to be Karate but aren’t. Let’s face it there is a lot of fraud, liars and self promoted people out there proclaiming to teach Karate. Some even go as far as to claim they teach the “real” Karate as if it was some sort of ancient secret that was given to them by some “master” in “Japan”…but it isn’t. What Karate being accepted into the Olympics will do is help educate people on what classifies as a true traditional system of Karate versus all the made up crap out there.
This, as I see it, is a good thing. My school is traditional. We teach Shorin Ryu Karate. It is authentic. It is a real system of Karate. In the years I have been teaching, 25 to be exact, I have watched schools open and close all around me. Some were in strip malls, others in YMCAs and even some in basements. They all called what they did “Karate” but only a handful of them actually taught Karate. Most of them taught some kind of mixed up system that had little to do with authentic Karate or proclaimed to teach a “New” martial art they “founded” but they weren’t even old enough to hold a master rank in a good, and legitimate system of Karate.
The inclusion of Karate into the Olympic games will highlight the systems that are, in all actuality, Karate. Be it systems from the birthplace of Karate in Okinawa or ones from Japan it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that names like Goju Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Isshin Ryu and others will now become what people look for over just some generic school claiming to teach “Karate”. It also solidifies what authentic Kata are because one must perform a kata from a set list of them and these are only found in traditional Karate systems. This will educate people on what a non-made up Kata is and why they should seek to learn them.
Even I write this I am engaged in a debate on Facebook with a few who are against Karate becoming an Olympic sport. They have solid arguments but are missing this exact point…Karate in the Olympics gets rid of, and doesn’t include, made up systems or frauds. That is something we should all agree on and be happy about…unless you are one of those frauds out there.
Personally I am excited about seeing the path Karate will take now that it is officially an Olympic sport. I am interested to see how it will change local tournaments, the level quality among competitions I attend and more. The only fears I have about this happening include hoping Karate people can stay out of the politics, favoritism and we don’t end up in a fiscal scandal like Tae Kwon Do and Judo have had many times. I also pray that they keep the emphasis on honor, integrity and respect over winning above all costs…that is what Karate is about to begin with so I pray it reflects that.
In the end I am excited that authentic Karate people across the world have the chance to showcase their talents at this level. I am also excited because Karate will be far more exciting to watch than Tae Kwon Do has been. Karate people will bicker and complain, that we know for sure, but in the end it has happened so embrace it, enjoy the ride and let’s see where this goes…