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Himokiri Karate
Blue Belt
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Joined: 13 Aug 2009
Posts: 325

Styles: Boxing, Korean Karate

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2021 7:45 pm    Post subject: What is complete Karate? Reply with quote

Just to give you context, I have studied various forms of martial arts but I claim Korean Karate (TSD/TKD) as my main style of Karate. So with that in mind, I hear tons of karate discussion. One that is reoccurring is if Karate is complete or incomplete.

The talk stems from Chinese Kung Fu masters not revealing a certain secrets to the Okinawans. The Okinawans also held back on teaching the Japanese because of Japan invading Okinawans. That attitude has also been echoed in the Japanese Karate culture. The logic is that if a teacher teaches the student his full skillset, then student will open their rival dojo which threatens the lively hood of the sensei.

So my question comes for all of you who have practiced Japanese/Okinawan karate. Is it true that there are missing moves in the original karate? Also what is the true definition of complete karate?


Going back to Korean Karate. Our history is somewhat established. We are more of a fusion karate and with different Tang Soo Do/Karate substyles. But I have always been fascinated with the karate of China/Okinawa/Japan. These three cultures have always had a very interesting relationship with one another which made me curios about the whole complete vs incomplete karate.
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sensei8
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 15511
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So my question comes for all of you who have practiced Japanese/Okinawan karate. Is it true that there are missing moves in the original karate? Also what is the true definition of complete karate?

I do not subscribe that there are missing moves in the original Karate. If something is unknown then how can it be missing?!? Albeit, if a technique is known in one style but not in another, then it can't be missing either, it's just been discovered.

Complete?? That, to me, is an illusion. Man's not complete, therefore neither is anything created by man.

Imho!!



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Zaine
Black Belt
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Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1817
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
If something is unknown then how can it be missing?!?


I agree with this. Something that I tell my child often is that she does not have to apologize for not knowing something. It is enough that she seeks the knowledge.

As for completeness, to again echo Bob I think it's a folly to chase it. A complete system would be the only system. There would be no need for others. We would learn Karate, with a capital K, and EVERYONE interested in karate would learn Karate. For me, however, that doesn't work. I don't want to learn every system out there. As far as karate goes, I've stuck to Okinawan styles because they fit my personal martial arts philosophy more than mainland karate does. Nothing at all against mainland styles, I think they're awesome, I just prefer Okinawan styles. Similarly, I prefer Longfist to Wushu. Fiore to Meyer. Nothing against those style, I just like to play to what my body does a little better.

This is the crux of completeness for me. There are 7.6 billion people in the world and we're all different. Some of us are short, some tall. Some portly, some lithe. The myriad of systems allows someone interested in martial arts to find something that works best for them. They don't have to be complete, they have to be effective. As Bob is fond of saying, the proof is on the floor.
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ashworth
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Joined: 13 Nov 2006
Posts: 591
Location: UK
Styles: Kankoko No Ryu, shotokan, IJR Karate, Iaido, Kobudo

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with those previous, who is to say what is complete? I see it more as a personal view:

When I think of a complete karate I see it more from the eyes of the practitioner. If the practitioner is looking for a style that does X, Y and Z and they find a style that does X, Y and Z then they have found a style that is complete for them. If they were in a style that only done X and Y and not Z then they are not in a style that is complete for their needs...
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tallgeese
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Joined: 04 May 2008
Posts: 6862
Location: McHenry County, IL
Styles: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bujin Bugei Jutsu, Gokei Ryu Kempo Jutsu, MMA, Shootfighting, boxing, kickboxing, JKD, Pekiti Tersia Kali

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

sensei8 wrote:
Quote:
So my question comes for all of you who have practiced Japanese/Okinawan karate. Is it true that there are missing moves in the original karate? Also what is the true definition of complete karate?

I do not subscribe that there are missing moves in the original Karate. If something is unknown then how can it be missing?!? Albeit, if a technique is known in one style but not in another, then it can't be missing either, it's just been discovered.

Complete?? That, to me, is an illusion. Man's not complete, therefore neither is anything created by man.

Imho!!




I'd agree with this. I feel like "complete" is a very modern construct when it comes to the arts. Most of the unarmed combat systems we talk about were devised by a specific group of people, at a particular time, for a very defined reason. That's not by any definition complete. It is highly valuable in solving the problems they were facing.

Why would an art devised in the 19th century have immediate answers to modern firearm defense? If no ruleset was in place competitively to allow for extended grappling on the ground, why would the founders take the time to address it?

So I agree with sensei, by definition there's no "complete." There is only the question if what you are studying best fits your needs and environment.
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tatsujin
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Joined: 12 Oct 2021
Posts: 53

Styles: Ryusei-ha Ryukyu Kempo Karate-jutsu

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
So my question comes for all of you who have practiced Japanese/Okinawan karate. Is it true that there are missing moves in the original karate? Also what is the true definition of complete karate?


There are several things within what you have asked and said...

From an Okinawan perspective, "original karate" existed before the influence of Chinese based martial arts. It just wasn't called "karate" originally. We would technically be talking about "te" (ti or di, 手). This would, essentially, be comprised of Tegumi (手組) grappling, Ti’gwa (手小) percussive impact or striking, Torite (取り手) seizing or grasping hand (or Tuite 取手), Buki-gwa (weapons) and kata (型) per-arranged forms.

All of this existed prior to the introduction of the Southern Chinese based martial arts (nanquan) that were brought back to Okinawa by various masters (Matayoshi, Higashionna, Miyagi, Uechi, etc.) and the arrival of Go Kenki (Wu Xianghui) and his specific introduction in Kume Village of White Crane (Baihequan, 白鶴拳)...and according to sources much smarter than I, it was probably Minghequan (鳴鶴拳, Crying, Calling, Whooping, or Shouting Crane fist).

What did these Okinawan martial arts study while in China? Actually, there is no real way to say for sure. A mixture to some degree I would say for sure. Folks have talked about Monk Fist Boxing (Luohanquan), Five Ancestors Fist (Wuzuquan) and others. I guess the really "popular" thing now is Incense Shop Boxing (Xiangdianquan).

To shorten the story, it was shortly after this integration of the Chinese based arts that the reference to the Chinese started showing up in the name used on Okinawa. Originally, "karate" was 唐手 or Tang Hand...with Tang referring specifically to China...so you could say China Hand correctly. Once the decision was made to try and integrate Okinawan martial arts into the school system and Japan (spearheaded by Itosu Anko and carried out, primarily, by Funakoshi Gichin), Okinawan karate (China Hand) was fundamentally changed from there on. So, when you ask if there are missing moves in "original karate", the answer is yes...assuming that we are calling the integration of native Okinawan martial arts with the Southern Chinese martial arts "original karate".

The changes started with the name "karate" itself. It went from karate (唐手) as China Hand...or Tang Hand to karate (空手) as empty hand. Additionally, they made it a "do" (道)...an art with the implication that it was an art or way of self-improvement or perfection as opposed to a more combat oriented art. So, kenjutsu became kendo, aikijutsu became aikido, etc. After all, you are wanting to teach this to school children (and adults). So, you can't say "this is a strike ment to kill" or "this is a technique to dislocate, break and/or destroy a joint", etc. Long story short, an integrate and full spectrum fight art was stripped of most of the main components of the original. What is left is basically a striking and kicking art. Can you find "some" grappling, takedowns, locks, etc. In the "modernized" Japanese based martial arts? Sure. But that is the exception to the rule and not the rule itself.

At the end of the day, the entire original basis of the art was totally changed.

So, do we have this "original karate" still around? Yes and no. Motobu-ryu is still around and that would be a close example (and if you want to have some fun, do some google-fu and see what Motobu thought of the modernized version of "karate" and also of Funakoshi...lol). Even on Okinawa now, most of what is taught there is karate-do (空手道). Can that system be used effectively for fighting and/or self-defense? Yes. Is it what was originally taught on Okinawa prior to the modernization period? No.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 12:28 pm    Post subject: Re: What is complete Karate? Reply with quote

Himokiri Karate wrote:
Just to give you context, I have studied various forms of martial arts but I claim Korean Karate (TSD/TKD) as my main style of Karate. So with that in mind, I hear tons of karate discussion. One that is reoccurring is if Karate is complete or incomplete.

The talk stems from Chinese Kung Fu masters not revealing a certain secrets to the Okinawans. The Okinawans also held back on teaching the Japanese because of Japan invading Okinawans. That attitude has also been echoed in the Japanese Karate culture. The logic is that if a teacher teaches the student his full skillset, then student will open their rival dojo which threatens the lively hood of the sensei.


What makes you believe that the Okinawans didn't already have a "complete" system before their interactions with the Chinese? I don't think they needed Chinese influence to "complete" their systems. I think that they, like us today, liked to seek out others to see what they had to offer. I don't think the Chinese systems of the day would have been any more "complete" than the Okinawan systems of the day.

tallgeese makes very good points about how the systems of those times evolved based on what kind of combat they had to face. Defenses against swords and spears differ greatly from those of today, where knives and firearms are commonplace.
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Last edited by bushido_man96 on Thu Nov 04, 2021 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Wastelander
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Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2021 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Complete" is a bad word to use in terms of martial arts, because in order for a martial art to be "complete," literally, it would have to contain every possible fighting technique in existence, which is patently ridiculous. No martial art is, or can ever be, "complete."

The only real way to use "complete" in relation to martial arts in a manner that makes any sense is with regard to direct transfer of a system from one person to another; was the "complete" curriculum of the system taught to the student, or not. Even then, though, we have to understand that people are flawed creatures, and also agents of change. I don't teach the exact same thing this year that I did three years ago, or three years before that. I am certain I have also forgotten things, while I've learned other things. Martial arts shouldn't be stagnant, unchanging, etched-in-stone curricula of combat, and I don't believe they ever were in the past, so we can't expect anyone to have learned the "complete" art from their teacher, because it was constantly evolving. The whole point was for the student to keep that evolution going.

Now, a martial art can be "well-rounded," in the sense that it covers a wide range of combative ranges and contexts. In that sense, I would say that karate was, and for some people still is "well-rounded." Okinawa already had native fighting arts, and then it started blending with arts from China, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Some people learned entire systems, as their instructor taught them at the time, and some didn't, but they all changed what they learned as they went, as well.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 04, 2021 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wastelander wrote:
Now, a martial art can be "well-rounded," in the sense that it covers a wide range of combative ranges and contexts. In that sense, I would say that karate was, and for some people still is "well-rounded." Okinawa already had native fighting arts, and then it started blending with arts from China, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Some people learned entire systems, as their instructor taught them at the time, and some didn't, but they all changed what they learned as they went, as well.


I think this sums it up best. Great post.
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Miick 11
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2021 12:04 am    Post subject: Re: What is complete Karate? Reply with quote

Himokiri Karate wrote:
Just to give you context, I have studied various forms of martial arts but I claim Korean Karate (TSD/TKD) as my main style of Karate. So with that in mind, I hear tons of karate discussion. One that is reoccurring is if Karate is complete or incomplete.

The talk stems from Chinese Kung Fu masters not revealing a certain secrets to the Okinawans. The Okinawans also held back on teaching the Japanese because of Japan invading Okinawans. That attitude has also been echoed in the Japanese Karate culture. The logic is that if a teacher teaches the student his full skillset, then student will open their rival dojo which threatens the lively hood of the sensei.

So my question comes for all of you who have practiced Japanese/Okinawan karate. Is it true that there are missing moves in the original karate? Also what is the true definition of complete karate?


Going back to Korean Karate. Our history is somewhat established. We are more of a fusion karate and with different Tang Soo Do/Karate substyles. But I have always been fascinated with the karate of China/Okinawa/Japan. These three cultures have always had a very interesting relationship with one another which made me curios about the whole complete vs incomplete karate.


There is not just missing moves ... the whole thing morphed into something else . Even when moves where retained in kata . many times the application was lost .... and turned into blocks and strikes .

I think its rather telling that when Hohan Soken returned from many years in Argentina to Okinawa ( hence missing all these dynamics of change ) he saw locals practicing karate and asked what it was they where doing .
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