For the last 39 years I have been actively training in the martial arts. My studies have been grounded in traditional Karate but I have, like so many others, ventured into other arts which include Judo, Japanese Jujitsu, Aikido, Tae Kwon Do and more. Some I have earned black belt ranks in and others I never earned any rank but rather just studied the arts. This being said I have also been teaching for over 26 years now as well. Some of those years were full time (1991-1999 and again 2005- to present) and others were as my evening times permitted after working my day jobs. During these 26 years of teaching I have heard all sorts of things in relation to Karate and since I am an avid personal journal type of guy I often review them. Some I laugh at and others are just so down right dumb that I get upset at. Tonight I decided to share a few with my readers (anyone else hear crickets in the background? LOL) along with my own commentary.
- The number one thing I often hear, from parents or people that “took Karate as a kid” is that Kata is useless. It has no bearing on modern self defense and many other uninformed claims by people who never had the discipline to actually stick it out in a martial art long enough to see the real value to Kata. I hear often how more “modern” arts don’t have Kata because it is a “waste of time”…well, hate to burst your bubble but if you do “drills” you are doing Kata. When I kickboxed we did pad work drills. These were repetitive movements and thus it was a kata. When I trained Judo every thing we did was Kata…two person drills to learn the proper throws, set up drills, escape drills…they were all Kata. I think the thing that bothers me the most is when I hear someone who “took” karate make such claims. Sorry, but that means you trained in a mcdojo or had a crappy instructor. Kata makes people better fighters…and when they can no longer fight because of injury or age it keeps them sharp, alert, in shape and prepared if they ever do have to use their skills. It is called fine muscle memory training and without it you will fail in a real fight.
- Point sparring is a game of tag. It isn’t real fighting. While there is some merit in this claim in some circuits when it comes to tournament fighting it is also a very closed minded statement. I, like many others I know, successfully went from our “game of tag” into full contact fighting and did just fine. The timing, distancing, movement and learning to read your opponent all was learned from playing “tag”. The difference was we didn’t try to hit hard in point fighting but rather used focus, speed and skill to outsmart our opponent. All those same things are needed in real fighting as well as full contact fighting…even MMA. Most of the people I have heard made this claim sucked at it and weren’t winners…and worse, they never competed again but the sure do know everything about it. My “point fighting” experience gave me a huge advantage over idiots who just wanted to fight. I was in shape, alert, focused and able to easily change from tapping some moron who wanted to hit me in to blasting them right off their feet. Step in the ring with most black belts I know, make this claim, and you will learn pretty quickly that they can easily go from being respectful, nice and not hurting you into beast mode and leave you crying.
- Karate people lose to Muay Thai or BJJ all the time so it is a worthless art. Sad to burst your bubble but Muay Thai people lose to Karate, BJJ lose to Karate and Karate loses too…it is not the art one studies but rather their ability to apply it against someone who is trying to harm them. Also keep in mind that most people who actually invested their time in training Karate for many years can apply it very effectively but they also learn there is nothing to prove by fighting some thug. Most Karate people also have ventured into other arts to understand them as I have too. Not to use Judo against Judo but rather to understand how our own art could be effective against it. It always makes me chuckle when I hear some one say that such and such art is the most effective. The reality of fighting has nothing to do with the art one trains but rather how effectively they can apply it, use it and whether they have the mentality to do anything to win. I have been in enough violent situations to know that anything goes…I have hit people with beer bottles, pitchers, pool cues too. In a real violent situation anything goes…and everyone gets hurt.
- Martial Arts are about fighting and MMA is as real as it gets. Really? I don’t remember seeing a cage, a ref or corner people in any of the real fights I have been in. I also don’t remember having over 30 sets of rules, illegal techniques that I can’t use nor a nice, padded canvas floor to cushion being thrown on the ground…but I guess people will believe anything they see on TV these days.
- Buying belts? In my dojo? Seriously? I guess that is why, in 26 years of teaching over 3000 people I only have ever promoted 48 people to black belt. Most of the guys I know who have been teaching 25+ years have promoted over 200. But you wouldn’t understand that because you have only been training for about 6-12 months which are basic belt levels that, providing you learn the materials and can perform it, you will test for and get. Earn your green belt and all of sudden it is like time stands still….and then earn that brown belt and it seems like the world stopped spinning. Five to eight years later you might be put up to get black belt but only if you are still around and have put the work in, earned the respect of your peers and have shown the proper attitude to represent my dojo and myself in public. Oh Wait!! You mean there is more to being a black belt than just being able to fight, do Kata and train? Uh Duh…
- “I took Karate as a Kid”…as IF that makes you an expert. You want to belittle what we do but you never had the balls to stick it out? Seriously? Next item…moving on from what is always a stupid conversation…
- Can’t leave out the “I am going to tell you how it is” parent of the kids I teach. So you want to tell me how to teach your kid? You want me to listen to you and what you think Karate is? How they should be learning? Uh ok…but wait…are you a black belt? Are you on the floor training? Have you been in Karate for 40 years like I have? Guess not but you sure are an expert aren’t you…sorry but you aren’t…leave the teaching to us true experts and keep your uniformed, media based ideas out of my dojo and off my floor. Thanks.
- Then you have one of my favorites…the guy who trained in videos, watches UFC, is glued to the Ultimate Fighter show and knows it all but yet can’t understand that REAL martial arts has so little to do with all that “stuff”. These people make all of us real martial artists, including the ones that do fight MMA, look badly. They run out, get in fights, talk smack, act all bad ass and think they know everything. They can throw out statistics of great fighters but can’t even tell you that fighters history or the REAL martial arts they spent years studying. The latch on to every popular martial art concept but never have the discipline to actually learn one. They sit on their computers, posting on Facebook, arguing with everyone about how “great” and “right” they are yet they won’t answer any questions about their “own” training. They spend hours watching Youtube videos and then think they can “perform” the same level and skill as the person they saw. Worse yet these are the same people who run their mouths, get drunk, can’t pay their bills and quite simply act like major douche bags…and people wonder why I ignore them LOL…
- Then you have that “guy” who “got a black belt” and opens a school. They know everything, are champions, talk a big game, lie, cheat, steal and make things up…oh wait, that never happens does it? Unfortunately it does quite often. Sadly many of them are also part of #8 above.
- And, finally, my favorite…the guy who knows it all and wants to challenge the “Sensei”. This has happened so many times that I honestly have to wonder what in the he double hockey sticks is wrong with people….I mean seriously. In the 26 years I have been teaching I have had about 12 of these situations. Personally I consider myself lucky because I have heard of it occurring more often but the difference is I don’t give two shakes to what these types of people think. In my mind they have “little man” syndrome…look it up and it will explain it perfectly. Out of the 12 that have happened in my dojo only two were actual students. The other 10 were visitors that I allowed to participate. They wanted to “show off” how great they were and made themselves look like total asshats. They get two choices…leave or be thrown through the door. The last one will happen if you aggressively do something towards me. Out of those 10 only two ever ended with me physically harming the idiots. The other ones left on their own accord but they sure like to go around lying about “beating” me up LOL. I don’t mind it either because those types of people just look like morons anyway. As for the two students, well they got cocky as they became good in class and they got humbled. Both of whom are still good friends of mine to this day. To me that speaks much more of a true Sensei than losing a student because you smacked them around.
There are so many more idiotic things I have seen and heard in my time in Karate but these days I just shrug it off and move on. I have great students and those who truly stick it out for a couple of years learn why everything we do in the dojo makes Karate effective and helps them in life, not just self defense wise, but in LIFE. Those who don’t stick out don’t matter because I don’t have respect for quitters…but that’s just me.