I'd like some karate-ka opinions on something I'm debating with myself....

Discussion in 'Karate' started by GojuKJoe, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. GojuKJoe

    GojuKJoe Valued Member

    Ok, this might not be too coherent so I apologise in advance in case I start to ramble. I'm looking for the opinions of people who have chosen karate as their style as it's the one I seem to love most. I don't know why I love it most...I just do, and I'm not interested in debating style vs style or whether or not I can get what I want from dropping karate and doing something else.

    My "dilema" so to speak, is this:

    I used to do Goju-ryu karate but I haven't done any training at all in near three years now and I'm now looking to start up again. The difference is, this time I have a much more focused goal that I want to get out of it. What I want is to really become a proficient fighter while I'm still young enough to be able to handle the training.

    The first thing that comes to mind for me is that although I know there are some very good karate schools that can really teach people how to fight effectively (kyokushin is one prominent example) there are none of those schools within practical reach of where I am. That then begs the question; why bother with karate then if you obviously can't get what you want from it? There are plenty of great kickboxing or muay thai gyms I could easily get to which would undeniably teach me to fight well. The answer for that to me is that karate was the first martial art I started when I was younger than ten years old (wado ryu, which I did casually for a few years) and I have developed a kind of kinship with it that I just can't seem to drop. I just like karate, no matter how much people say against it and no matter how much I try to pursuade myself that I could do better elsewhere.

    So, with that established, the problem is; how can I make it work for me? I know I won't be satisfied with going to a karate club and knowing that I'm not really going to learn to fight well and likewise I would not be satisfied with just going to a muay thai place, as it simply is not karate. The only thing I can think of is to keep doing karate and progressing in the ranks while at the same time training in MMA and muay thai to get the fighting experience. Then when I get to a high rank in karate and can start my own club, I would be able to teach people how to actually fight. But then, if I get the fighting experience outside of karate then intergrate it, would I not just be teaching muay thai with a gi on?
  2. EvilhomerNZ

    EvilhomerNZ Valued Member

    Definately a tricky spot. Couple of points to cover off..

    1) Karate IS effective fighting, are you wanting self defence or wanting to get into ring fighting? If you train karate correctly it's totally a good fighting system.. that's what it's for. But in the ring it doesnt work to well.

    2) Depending on how traditional your goju training was you'll already have a handle on basic throws, trips, reaps and generally moving and manipulating your opponent. These are all useful base skills for either ring fighting or self defense so keep working on them.

    3) I'm in or have been in literally the exact same position as you. Luckily the form of karate I study/teach is a FC style system so the striking component is there. I'm a karate 'fanboi' as it were and wanted to stick with it as well. But realistically it's very hard finding a good karate school that practices regularly with contact that doesnt avoid punching to the head. (Yes, I know FC to the head is stupid.. I more mean training to punch towards the head... not the physical act of punching people in the head while training :p)

    Basically if you want to go ring for either kickboxing or MMA.. cross training is going to be essential, I think your idea of sticking with karate to progress and taking Thai/MMA for sparring ring experience is your best option.

    Moving forward, if you mix it up and create your own style then yeah, you will be teaching thai with a gi on OR you'll be teaching karate with more realisitic striking.. but that's what makes it a new style. Our system is a mixed system but the two main factors are karate and thai, which is what makes it more effective IMHO. So really that's a life choice that's up to you :p :)
  3. animefreak88

    animefreak88 Valued Member

    I'm a karate guy who has for the time being made the switch to TKD. I am also doing a lil bit of MMA/muay thai training on the side. When I go to teach on my own down the road, I will still teach primarily isshinryu karate, but I have every intention of adding some of the higher or more acrobatic kicks I know from TKD, I will teach some of the low kicks and clinch techniques from muay thai, and I will likely add some extra grappling work now and again to the training. But in terms of the kicks, I plan on clarifying to my students what is traditional isshinryu and what I have picked up elsewhere. And in terms of fighting, regardless of style, what works works, whether it works on the street or in the ring. Train in traditional karate and add MMA on the side. You should train that way even if the karate school you find is full contact, just because there is always something to gain by broadening your horizons. Learn as much as you can, and then pass on the best of what you know to your students. If this means teaching goju and adding some muay thai in, do so. You can explain to students that a certain technique comes from elsewhere, but it would be a disservice to your students in the future to withhold good martial arts knowledge just because its not a part of your traditional curriculum. But karate is more than just its way of punching and kicking, it has its rich history, kata, and traditions and values that you would be teaching too. And by maintaining those other things, adding a lil bit from other styles just makes the goju you teach a little more encompassing. Hopefully this helps some.
  4. callsignfuzzy

    callsignfuzzy Is not a number!

    Tough question. If you mean "be a fighter" as in a professional fighter, depending on your venue I can see Goju being helpful. Now I've only taken about six months of Goju classes but it seems to me that it's a short-ranged system. The plus side of this is that you may be able to pull off some unorthodox stuff when fighting on the inside. The down side is that because sport fights start from across the cage or ring, you'll need to get some long-ranged footwork under your belt. And obviously some ground grappling if you do MMA. I know what you mean about loving karate, so go ahead and stick with that, just try to apply some of your karate when you glove up. Find out what works in a matchfight and what doesn't.

    As for teaching it, honestly I would never teach karate exactly the way I've been taught, for the reasons you talk about. But I don't think having "alive" pad work or heavy-contact sparring makes it any less "karate". As far as I'm concerned the kihon and kumite can be trained just like a sport-based system. Kata is what I've been having a problem with, however there are good resources out there now on bunkai that make it seem more realistic than how I've been taught. If you're having second-thoughts about teaching kata, or how to teach it, I would suggest "The Heian Flow System" by J.W. Titchen and "The Way of Kata" by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder as good resources.
  5. GojuKJoe

    GojuKJoe Valued Member

    Thanks for the replies, I'm glad at least a few people understand what I'm talking about, hehe.

    I forgot to mention that I'll also be studying judo along the way as I used to do that as well (only for about nine months) and I'll be going back to it once I find a club.

    I didn't mean that my main goal was to be a pro fighter, I mean that fighting would be more like a means to an end, rather than the end itself, if that makes sense? My goal is to be a good martial artist and becoming a good martial artist means that you need to be a good fighter in my view. Again, this is my own, personal view on the matter and I don't mean to say it's the right way for everyone i.e. I don't want to kick of a debate about the true meaning of martial arts.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2008
  6. TheWaterMargins

    TheWaterMargins Valued Member

    If you're still in Newcastle the Sendai karate club (I think they still train at Eldon Square Leisure Centre) are a good bet for effective fighting tuition. Largely because they have regular visits from a sensei called Owen Murray. I've rarely trained with a more fearsome instructor. Give it a go and see what you think.
  7. Llamageddon

    Llamageddon MAP's weird cousin Supporter

    The remust have some decent Goju clubs in Newcastle? It's a big place! Could you not use the metro to get to them maybe?
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2008
  8. TheWaterMargins

    TheWaterMargins Valued Member

    As far as I know - it's pretty much dominated by Shotokan/Wado Ryu/Thai boxing.

    There might be a Seijinkai club (Harry Cooke's org) which combines Shotokan & Goju.

    Had a quick look and there is a Goju club in Newcastle but thats the Australian version!!!! :rolleyes:
  9. Nuklz

    Nuklz The Ascended

    I beleive that karate, correctly applied is an effective way to fight. Sometimes when you begin learning a style its real world applications aren't evident. In the beginning you have to follow the motions rigidly like everyone else, but when techniques start to become second nature, you can tweak them to fit your body structure and personal strengths. No two people's karate is exactly the same. My advice is to become proficcient in karate if thats what you truly love, make it your own karate. Then if you feel satisfied with that, explore others arts, take from them and turn yourself into fighter that you find most efficient.
  10. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

  11. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    If your goal is to become a better fighter, or a better martial artist, instead of a better karateka specifically, the quality of instruction is far more important than the specific art you train in. If you live in an area where there's a good judo dojo and a good muay thai gym, but the only karate dojos are McDojos, don't train in karate! Train in judo and/or muay thai.

    If you train in a dojo that you feel is subpar, just because it's a karate dojo and you're nostalgic for your old karate dojo, eventually you will be disappointed. It just won't measure up, and you'll feel (correctly) that your training is going to waste. Even if it's got the same style name on the front door, if it's a completely different dojo, the substance of the training may feel completely different, and you won't get from it what you got from your childhood dojo.

    As they say, you can never go home again. Trying to do so is only going to lead to long-term frustration. My suggestion is, if you can't find a good karate dojo in your area, to figure out what IS good in your area and train in that. That's the best way to keep looking forward with your training and keep improving.

    Just my two cents.
  12. Knight_Errant

    Knight_Errant Banned Banned

    I have always thought that this was bunk. Even when I took my first karate class as a teenager. If it won't work in a protected environment like a ring, it won't work for real.

    My answer to the OP is that, actually, as long as you continue to learn in your own time, and filter out the crud that inevitably trickles into karate classes these days, it's much better to go to a class. you can usually squeeze something useful out of the experience. The worst tutor I've ever had, who shall remain nameless, taught me a couple of useful things. Mainly, he taught me how not to do it, but the fact remains that I got something out of the experience. Besides, karate teaching being what it is, there's always a chance that you can reform the club from within. That's my hope for the future of martial arts- people work with you better when you're prepared to work with them rather than just hurling abuse at them.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  13. Telsun

    Telsun Valued Member

    Hey GojuKJoe, I remember you :)

    Have you considered that you only really like karate because that is your comfort zone? I have pretty much left the karate ranks after quite a few years study and I'm forever out of my depth. It's hard, mainly on the ego, sometimes I just think to hell with all this I'll just go back to karate and be good again!

    If you want to be a good martial artist then just choose what you want to do and train and study hard. You want to be a good fighter via Muay Thai or MMA then study it, you cannot give up on the karate attachment then study it want the best of both worlds then study them both, why limit yourself to one art? You're a free man right?

    Just make sure your reasons for staying with karate are right, if it is ego and attachment then break free and do what you believe in your heart is right.

    Don't think of the the martial arts as being separate i.e Muay Thai, karate, etc just think of them as martial arts whichever one you choose you will always be you. Having studied various arts now I cannot call my art Karate as it seems to misrepresent what I do I simply say that I teach/ study martial arts.
  14. aemond

    aemond New Member

    I think there are a lot of different ideas getting thrown around, and possibly confused.

    Karate can be effectively used to really hurt, or even kill, a person. However, fighting in sport versus unadulterated fighting are two different things, and thus the strategy changes. Karate is not a very good system for sport fighting. The principle theory of Karate is to optimally use one's body mechanics to squeeze out as much power effectively into its techniques. Because Karate is used from a defensive position, rather than an attacking one, the mechanics of a fighter changes. For example, you will never see a punching technique in Karate where the karateka lifts his or her heel off the ground, this is just not conducive for generating power. Both heels should be planted, shoulders down, back straight, and hips square.

    In sport (this includes MMA), the goals of the fighter are a little different. Because the fighter is not necessarily going for the knockout per se, they are also looking to accumulate points and so they will often sacrifice optimal body mechanics (for instance, they will reach for a punch, while lifting their heel off the ground) in order to improve their range--this also being something that differs from someone whose position is to attack versus defend.

    If Karate is studied correctly it should be an effective art for self-defense. Karate did not evolve over generations from teacher to student, because it didn't work very well.

    This being said, not all dojos are created equal. At the same time, you can't expect to be able to fight well without putting in your dues. This is one philosophy from Karate that jives well with me: Karate cannot be quickly learned. Like a slow moving bull, it eventually travels a thousand miles. If one trains diligently every day, then in three or four years one will come to understand karate. Those who train in this fashion will discover karate (no. 3 of the Ten Precepts of Karate; srce: "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anko_Itosu"). Train hard, and smart! There are no shortcuts.
  15. Ives

    Ives Mokuteki o motte hajimeru

    I have to agree with Andrew, there are no shortcuts to karate study.
    How long have you been involved in Wado and Goju?
    Karate isn't meant to be practised in a competition atmosphere like in a ring.
    If you really want to stay in karate, then stay and train hard. This doesn't mean you can't study in MT or whatever style/system. I guess You should at one point look past your borders.

    The principles found in karate, can be found in most other styles and arts. Whether it's MT, Judo, TKD, Daito-Ryu...
  16. Knight_Errant

    Knight_Errant Banned Banned

    Why not?
  17. Ives

    Ives Mokuteki o motte hajimeru

    The techniques practised in karate weren't develloped for play by rules competition. Basic techniques like tsuki and keri could be used in a strikes only match, but the other techniques aren't designed to spare your opponent, but to incappicate maim or kill.

    A competition match is meant to win, maybe drink a beer afterwards with your opponent and look back at.

    Karate fighting is meant to stay alive and survive.
  18. Nuklz

    Nuklz The Ascended

    I agree with Ives and again this brings us back to survival vs. competition. But i think it was yohan who argued that competitive fighters actually have the edge because of their full contact experience. After all practicing lethal technique fullcontact could leave you short on sparring partners..........or dead.

    P.S. Sorry yohan if i confused you with someone else.
  19. Knight_Errant

    Knight_Errant Banned Banned

    It's just that I tend to think that if you can't train it regularly- which you obviously can't with the more naughty techniques- then you can't rely on it. Besides which, I think attitudes like that show a misunderstanding of- and a lack of familiarity with- combat. In my experience, what keeps you in the fight is a good core of basic skills such as distancing, timing and rythm, not these 'too deadly to spar' techniques. And, actually, I'm convinced that most traditional karate practitioners would agree with this attitude. Hence the emphasis on basic techniques and constant drilling that you find in genuine traditional karate.
  20. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    I completely disagree with your characterization of the goal of MMA strikers, boxers, and muay thai fighters. If anything, they're more focused on getting a knock-out than sparring karateka, not less. Why? Just look at the rules. A knock-out is a guaranteed win. It doesn't matter how far behind you are in points; a knockout secures victory.

    The heel-up thing is a difference in philosophy on HOW to get a KO. In my experience, karate focuses more on maximizing the power per blow (particularly with a gyaku zuki), but gives up some speed and range in the process. That speed and range allows a boxer to land more blows during a given interchange, even if each blow is not as powerful as a perfectly-executed gyaku zuki.

    Which is a more effective way of knocking people out? I'm not wise or experienced enough to make such a sweeping statement. But what I will say, though, is that boxing and muay thai certainly DO focus on getting that KO, at least as much as the hardest karate styles.


    EDIT: I'd also like to weigh in on the argument that karate has an arsenal of death techniques which can't be used in a sparring system. I've never been a fan of the whole idea of pressure points, eye-gouging, throat strikes, etc. Why? Two reasons. First, they're really very hard to pull off in the panicked-and-disoriented setting of a self-defense situation. Second, you fight how you train. You fall back on whatever you do the most during your training. If those pressure points and vital-point strikes aren't the bulk of you're training, they're not going to be your instinctive reaction when you get hit from behind in a dark alley.

    The bulk of my Shotokan training is very simple: body mechanics (power from the hip, and keeping your root). Timing and range. Straight-line punches. Force against force. Exploding into the opponent as soon as there's an opening. It's unattractive and inelegant, but it's simple, straightforward, and brutal, which in my mind, makes for good self-defense. But it ALSO makes for good sparring. In my mind, the core of Shotokan is equally applicable to sparring and to real-world self-defense.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008

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