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rhilllakefield
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 62

Styles: Ishinryu Karate, Jeet Kune Do

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 9:27 am    Post subject: Is there room for self expression in Karate? Reply with quote

Hi folks, its been a while since Ive posted!

Just curious about everyones thoughts on this. Is there room for self expression in Karate, or most of the Japanese arts?

I've trained in three styles of Karate for ten years periodically and have begun to feel a bit boxed in.

Ive had some time off, and am looking at training again.

I have to admit, some of the other styles appeal to me. I've been studying archery as well and have found similar mental discipline, but with less focus on, the one right way, as taught in a lot of Japanese arts.

Another perfect example is a boxers parry vs a Soto use.....similar defence, but is something like the parry a technique that's excepted as true Karate?

I've always loved Karate, but feel a bit boxed in.

Any thoughts?

Ryan
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Wado Heretic
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 23 May 2014
Posts: 412
Location: United Kingdom, England, Shropshire
Styles: Wado-Ryu , Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu (Kodokan), RyuKyu Kobojutsu

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think there is but that one has to think in terms of Karate as a source of Knowledge originating on the island of Okinawa, and Karate as a collection of various systemised approaches to imparting said knowledge.

In the world of physical violence, there are no golden rules, but only degrees of guidelines. Some of the guidelines need to be followed at all times, but there will be times to break them given context.

In that regard, in interpreting movements and motions, the guideline is simple: did it work as intended? If using soto-uke as boxing like cover works against an attack that is A. Realistic, and B. Done with speed and force then it is not wrong.

People talk about true and false because they want to believe they belong to some special. When you get into that dynamic one is talking religion, not martial arts.

Now, historical martial arts should be preserved as best we can for their historical value. However, we best do that through video recording, and written instructions and records, and making sure we listen to our teachers on the essential points. Yet, we invite these arts to die if we refuse to rejuvenate and innovate within sensible degrees for each generation. We must give each generation a purpose to preserve the arts. Plus, the human body, unlike other weapons will never become obsolete: you should always keep your hand-to-hand skills relevant to their purpose. People who value the right way as an absolute way are the worst enemy of preserving the arts.

Bringing me, full circle (I hope), to my point. There is a proper way to do key things as passed down by our teachers. There is a proper way to do certain kata, and there are certain key mechanics to techniques. Each system has its assumptions as part of its legacy that must be adhered to preserve that legacy. However, that still leaves you a vast space to experiment and express yourself. Test the assumptions against cold, hard reality. Ask the questions those assumptions do not have answers to, or if they do, find more questions.

Look to Judo: look at how competition continues to expand its catalogue of techniques. Look at Koryu and the relationship with Battojutsu and Iaido. Treat the system as a house you have brought. You might not have built the house, but you will decorate it and fill it with furniture, and more importantly, care for it.

Finally, look to history. Itosu's students created Shotokan, Shorin-Ryu, and Shito-Ryu, and that is just mentioning the best known. These systems, in turn, have produced numerous successor systems. I think the question really is: do I have to go into the wild to forge my own path? Sometimes you do. That, however, is the nature of people.
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Lupin1
KF Sempai
KF Sempai

Joined: 15 Dec 2009
Posts: 1627
Location: NH USA
Styles: Isshinryu

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I definitely think there is, but I also think you have to learn to do it the correct, traditional way before you can start expressing yourself properly.

Think of it like a 12 year old using terrible grammar in his writing because he didn't bother to learn the proper rules and then claiming "self-expression" when corrected. Now compare that to a professional writer who knows how to use the rules properly but is deliberately and artistically breaking them with a desired effect in mind. Those are two different things. One is a beginner who doesn't know better who is being stubborn about learning to do it right and is overconfident in their abilities. The other is a master of his craft who took the time to learn to do it right and now has earned the right to improvise and can improvise intelligently without losing his effectiveness.

The founder of my school always told us "for the first 20 years, your karate belongs to your instructor. After that your karate belongs to you". You have to take the time to learn proper rules and technique before you can make the informed decision to tweak those. I'm not sure someone with ten years of experience split between different styles would be there yet.
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rhilllakefield
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 62

Styles: Ishinryu Karate, Jeet Kune Do

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2020 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks gentleman. I appreciate the responses.

I feel like we're in agreement here, and I think its a fairly broad topic.

I look at Sensei Iain Abernathy, and I love his stuff....sometimes I feel like its been modified outside of its original form....sometimes not.

Thanks again for the reply.

Lupin1, maybe Im not there yet, and that why I feel a bit disoriented.

Ryan
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
Posts: 2466
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This topic sort of revolves around the Shu-Ha-Ri learning concept. First, you learn by copying (Shu), doing exactly as you are told and shown, until it comes naturally. Then, you start to adapt (Ha) what you learned to be more suited to you, personally, which is where self expression starts to come in. After a while, you learn to break free (Ri) from what you were taught to be able to come up with your own material, while still holding true to the fundamentals that you built up over time. This is a process that is constantly happening as you learn; not just in the overall process, but in every individual technique and nuance, as well. After a few years of consistent training and learning, your karate should begin to take on its own unique flavor, without violating the overall principles you've learned.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 28085
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2020 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everyone has had great responses here. I agree that self-expression is something that takes time, and comes along with training. I don't think it should be something that is forced, though. I think as we go along, our experiences and training begin to actualize themselves in different ways. There will always be a common thread, but we all interject our own uniqueness into our training, especially the longer we go.

I think the important thing is to really understand something first, before being able to start expressing things differently, just for the thought of doing so. It still needs to have meaning.
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sensei8
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14817
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2020 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wastelander wrote:
This topic sort of revolves around the Shu-Ha-Ri learning concept. First, you learn by copying (Shu), doing exactly as you are told and shown, until it comes naturally. Then, you start to adapt (Ha) what you learned to be more suited to you, personally, which is where self expression starts to come in. After a while, you learn to break free (Ri) from what you were taught to be able to come up with your own material, while still holding true to the fundamentals that you built up over time. This is a process that is constantly happening as you learn; not just in the overall process, but in every individual technique and nuance, as well. After a few years of consistent training and learning, your karate should begin to take on its own unique flavor, without violating the overall principles you've learned.

I completely agree!!

Without self-expression, there can be no life; self-expression is as vital to living as breathing. Self-expression isn't made out of some cookie-cutter emotion; hence, as free as the wind is, albeit, change is inevitable.

How can a song be written, and then performed effectively without self-expression?? Feelings; emotions give the song an effective life, so that the audience grasp its essence, and even in that, interpretations vary from one audience to another.

There's no effectiveness without self-expression. There's no creativity without self-expression. The MA without self-expression is, well, boring as all get-out...well...to me it is.



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JazzKicker
Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 07 Aug 2017
Posts: 142
Location: NJ
Styles: JKD, TSD, MMA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i would certainly hope there was room for self-expression. if you've studied JKD, you know Bruce Lee's entire point was that. And boxers, they don't have a "style', other than being themselves. There isn't an "Ali" style or "Tyson" style.

It depends on the school you go to, of course, but also what your degree of self-expression is. If you go to a traditional school but tell them you don't do front stance or reverse punch, you'll have a problem.
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Patrick
KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27233
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice to see you back, rd2022!

Patrick
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rhilllakefield
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 19 May 2010
Posts: 62

Styles: Ishinryu Karate, Jeet Kune Do

PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you gentleman! And thanks Patrick! Happy to be back among like minded friends.
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