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Sailor Sindbad
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 05 Dec 2019
Posts: 19

Styles: Kobayashi Shorin-ryu

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2022 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the Ryukyu Kingdom had never been annexed by Japan, and karate had spread around the world directly from Okinawa without passing through Japan first, would karate be the same as what we have now - even in Okinawan styles?

The word "karate" itself is Japanese, not Uchinaaguchi. While I will always say that karate is Okinawan, I don't consider anyone to be wrong if they say it's Japanese.
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LionsDen
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 06 May 2022
Posts: 136


PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2022 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aurik wrote:
That is a loaded question.

Karate is an umbrella term that covers many different styles and lineages.

For example, Uechi-Ryu has been (relatively) lightly influenced by Japan and still has a very distinct Kung Fu flavor to it, especially as you look at the more advanced techniques. Other styles such as Goju Ryu are fundamentally Okinawan as well. (Remember, Okinawa has "only" been part of Japan since the late 1800's).

As Karate spread to mainland Japan, it evolved to better fit with Japanese culture and ideals. If you look at the more Okinawan styles, their two-person drills tend to focus more on self-defense. You are expected to break your opponent's balance, push/pull him to manipulate the distance, etc. However in several more Japanese styles, you are not expected to touch your opponent in a two-person drill -- you don't want to disrupt their balance or stance.

Finally we get to Tae Kwon Do, which is descended from Shotokan karate, but they added a Korean flair to it. Then we can also talk about American styles of karate, which again have been developed from Japanese styles of Karate.

So I guess the answer is, is Karate Japanese? I would say yes and no. The term Karate was first used in 1920's Okinawa when bringing the art to Japan. All styles of Karate have some level of Japanese influence to them. However, all forms or Karate are not wholly Japanese.

My .02 worth.
i am not particularly familiar with uechi ryu however whenever i see examples of it, whether in kata, or in general training formats, i don't see much that looks like kung fu when comparing it to other styles of karate, so maybe you could elaborate on that point for me?
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Tyler
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 16 Mar 2022
Posts: 45
Location: Narita,Japan
Styles: Shorin-Ryu

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2022 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's defintiley a loaded question as Karate was influenced by China and came to Okinawa which was ryukaku islands and then made its way into Mainland Japan as a Sports subject in the schools and then spread all over the world.

I wrote and article about this very subject on Budojapan.com or you can also find it at world of Martial arts TV too.
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aurik
Blue Belt
Blue Belt

Joined: 08 Nov 2016
Posts: 269
Location: Denver, CO
Styles: Shuri-Ryu, Uechi-Ryu

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2022 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LionsDen wrote:
i am not particularly familiar with uechi ryu however whenever i see examples of it, whether in kata, or in general training formats, i don't see much that looks like kung fu when comparing it to other styles of karate, so maybe you could elaborate on that point for me?


It's not immediately apparent when watching kata videos, but Uechi-Ryu has a concept of "flow" to it, where you generate power in one sequence and then carry that power and momentum over to the next sequence. This is somewhat opposite to the concept of "kime", or focus, and this concept of flow is where the kung fu roots come in. "Kime" and "flow" can be seen at two ends of a spectrum, and a student can choose how much of which to blend into their own technique.

For example, in our first rank kata, Kanshiwa, the first 3 sequences are:

Bow, step left to a natural stance, move hands up to tiger kimae.
Pivot 90 degrees to the left into sanchin-dachi, left circle block, right seiken-tsuki, return right hand to kamae.
Pivot 180 degrees to the rear into right sanchin-dachi, right circle block, left seiken-tsuki, return left hand to kamae.
Pivot 90 degrees to the left into left sanchin-dachi, left circle block, right seiken-tsuki, return right hand to kamae.

As a student gets more advanced, they can introduce the concept of "flow" into these basic moves as follows:
- A student can use first pivot to "prime" their block and provide extra power to that wa-uke (circular block)
- The student can then, instead of returning his hand to kamae proper, can then "flow" into the next sequence by immediately doing the 180 pivot and use the motion he would have returned to kamae to "prime" the next wa-uke.

It can be very subtle, and it's not something you'd necessarily see in an instructional video, but the kung fu influence is certainly there.
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Zaine
Black Belt
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Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1920
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2022 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Broadly? No, I don't consider karate to be wholly Japanese. I believe that it is too global for that. With things like Ed Parker Kenpo and the like reaching national and sometimes international popularity, I think that we can safely say that karate is a thing in and of itself. I think styles of karate can be attached to a national identity, and that it is important for styles of karate to recognize their lineage and pay respects to that history, but I would not call Tang Soo Do Japanese Karate, despite it finding origins there. For example, I practice Shobayashi Shorin Ryu. My karate is Okinawan and I hold that distinct from Japanese karate (despite Okinawa being an island owned by Japan). In this system, we draw heavily from the chinese tradition that the name implies, but we would never say that we are kung-fu, or even Shaolin. Funakoshi was Okinawan, but I don't see a lot of Shotokan practitioners identifying their style as Okinawan.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15773
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2022 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please allow me to paraphrase my original post found in this thread...

Do I consider Karate Japanese? No. I consider that Karate IS a Martial Art. Labels strip the purity of its core right down to its label.



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Sailor Sindbad
White Belt
White Belt

Joined: 05 Dec 2019
Posts: 19

Styles: Kobayashi Shorin-ryu

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2022 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zaine wrote:
Broadly? No, I don't consider karate to be wholly Japanese. I believe that it is too global for that. With things like Ed Parker Kenpo and the like reaching national and sometimes international popularity, I think that we can safely say that karate is a thing in and of itself. I think styles of karate can be attached to a national identity, and that it is important for styles of karate to recognize their lineage and pay respects to that history, but I would not call Tang Soo Do Japanese Karate, despite it finding origins there. For example, I practice Shobayashi Shorin Ryu. My karate is Okinawan and I hold that distinct from Japanese karate (despite Okinawa being an island owned by Japan). In this system, we draw heavily from the chinese tradition that the name implies, but we would never say that we are kung-fu, or even Shaolin. Funakoshi was Okinawan, but I don't see a lot of Shotokan practitioners identifying their style as Okinawan.


I'm a new guy here, so I don't mean to ruffle feathers, but what's the consensus here on whether or not Tang Soo Do, Soo Bahk Do, etc is karate?

I don't think it's completely accurate to say that karate has become bigger than Japan. We have an example of a martial art that has become bigger than its national origin - modern Western boxing is British. But other countries outside the UK - namely the US, Mexico, Russia, etc - completely taking over and dominating the sport has made it bigger than the UK.

That hasn't happened with karate.
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Zaine
Black Belt
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Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1920
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I generally let Korean Karate practitioners make their own decisions about this, but it seems that the consensus here is that it is Karate and I don't really see a reason to say otherwise.

I don't think popularity in other countries plays a whole lot into. As wide spread as karate is, it doesn't feel fair to claim that it is a wholly Japanese or Okinawan thing anymore. Making the argument that it is a wholly Japan or Okinawan thing does open the door for arguments based on Karate's own history, which is deeply rooted in Chinese martial art traditions. Does that make Karate it's own thing? Or a branch of some system of kung fu? I think the name argues for my point as well. Karate means empty hand. Does our decision to continue the use of that name mean that it is a Japanese thing? Or like the word "cool" has it simply become a borrowed word within the lexicon of a myriad of languages. Linguistics would suggest that the latter is the case here.

Again, this is not to say that we should be flippant about the history of karate in Western countries and elsewhere. It's important to know where our styles come from and respect that lineage. But if we're not calling Shorin Ryu Tode anymore, then I don't think it's necessary for us to consider Karate from other countries as being wholly Japanese.
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Tyler
Yellow Belt
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Joined: 16 Mar 2022
Posts: 45
Location: Narita,Japan
Styles: Shorin-Ryu

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let it be what you want it to be!

Reality is in the eyes of the beholder!

We all know it was definitley of chinese origin brought to the ryukakku islands now Okinawa and then spread into mainland Japan. eventually spreading all over the World.

Karate of today has so many different sectors because of each individual student rebranding it. However depending on the Sensei they teach the original roots.

Ive noticed many MC Dojos in America especially with too many logos and not really doinng all of the breathing techniques which truly make Karate powerful.

Or some kids classes where the Sensei isnt really good at Karate and just teaches the kids basics and mostly excecize to make their parents happy. I love Cobra Kai but it is a clear example of the good side and the bad side of it all!

Elvos Presley claims to be a Master of karate and was clearly a Joke. He used his fame and paid for his supposed achievements. Watch the Joe Rogan podcasts on elvis or just go to youtube and type in Elvis and Karate. Most of the time he is drunk and bloated and doing his supposed Kata on Stage. A real disgrace to true karate.

Train hard and learn the correct stances, breathing and anatomy of where to strike and then it is an effective Martial Art...... and just because you get a Black Belt it is only the beginning of your Journey on the path.

Be humble and seek knowledge, most importanlty never give up! The Kobudo side of Okinawaan Martial Arts is really where my interest is focused on these days espcially the Jo and the Bo.
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crash
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Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 143

Styles: karate,

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

is this a trick question????...lol..... if so then, YES it is japanese , if not it would be called Kung-fu........hmmmm....lol
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