Over the years I have slowly seen peoples faith in Karate as an effective form of self-protection or as a fighting art someone diminish, and if truth beknown I generally tend to agree. Or on the contrary some are more than a little deluded when it comes to in fight reality. The thing is a lot of the Karate that is taught these days (not all by any means) has had its fundamental basis changed, or more simply it has been watered down and lost its craft. If the emphasis of a Karate and its Kata is on form not function, you make it in to a sport touch tag match, take out all of the heavy contact and hard challenges, plus lose crucial hands on training dills as you give out black belts to 6-year-old kids. Then of course you can’t expect your Karate to be an effective fighting art can you…

I agree in that Karate as an art has so much more to offer its participants than just the ability to be able to fight, of course it has! I also accept that people practise Karate for a variety of reasons these days. Where do you draw the line though before Karate is no more of a physical exercise pursuit than say Aerobics, Yoga or even Gymnastics? All of which are excellent physical activities I may add. Do you really wish to be a Karate Ka who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag? You can be a dedicated and dam good Karate Ka , but this doesn’t mean that you can fight.

“Meitoku Yagi, who believes that Karate is for fighting and not for talking about” (Okinawan Karate by Mark Bishop).

For me good Karate is good Karate, it is rounded and it is balanced, but if you take out core components or elements then somethings are going to be missing aren’t they, with the ability to be able to fight or defend oneself effectively being one of them, and like it or not the art of Karate was born from this very basis. It is each to their own how and why people practise Karate. But always be honest about your own Karate and training. In fight effectiveness combined with a good wellbeing and a good honest heart have always been at the forefront of my mind whilst training.

“You go to the dojo for a reason, not for a “fun” time, but to learn skills and develop certain feelings that in times of danger may make all the difference between life and death. (Shin Gi Tai by Michael Clarke).

There is an old Okinawan saying that goes something like this. “100 Cats Don’t make a Tiger” or “You can feed a Cat up for 100 Years but it won’t turn into a Tiger”. In other words, training ineffectively for the fight will ultimately result in failure, just as many years of in correct practise will too.

Real or True Karate contains many fight skills and training drills that are there to help you learn to fight effectively. There are so many things that one should be considering, concentrating on and doing, there are also many things that one should not be practising and doing if in fight reality or self-protection is in mind, and messing around learning loads and loads of Kata applications with no basis is one of them. One should also remember that being in a serious life-threatening situation can be like going in to battle with a raging tiger, so a serious Karate Ka needs to be adequately prepared and drilled so that they can try to bring about a swift safe conclusion to an encounter. Always remember this… “It’s Your Karate, and it’s You who will be in the Fight”.   Glyn Jones.