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5 Reasons Karate is NOT Useless

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With all honesty I can tell you that karate will not make you the fighter you sadly want to be.  I would actually advise you to instead put that energy into becoming a carpenter, architect or dental hygienist.  But what the Hell…you’ve come this far right?  So who am I to have an opinion you might ask?  After 15 years, several styles and at least a half dozen excellent dojos, I’ve certainly got stories to tell.

Yet because I’m a good sport about it all and can concede that nothing besides Chinese made guitars are truly useless, I am offering the martial arts world the closest thing I can think of to an olive branch: 5 Reasons Why Karate is NOT Useless.

#5. Karate can be a good foundation

Listen and listen good: Karate by itself is a less than ideal fighting art and barely beats out harsh language as a means of self defence.  However, it can be a solid foundation to move on to better things.  Such is the case with many very successful MMA fighters.  Just keep in mind kids…they went beyond karate.  Had they stayed put the local dojo you likely would never have heard of them.

Yet true enough, years of karate practice will make the karate-ka much more adept at further training in other martial arts.  Ju-Jitsu, Krav Maga, and even specialized weapons training will all be much easier after spending years doing stances and perfecting kicks and punches.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to take up Escrima Stick Fighting for example if you don’t have to learn from scratch how to loosely hop around in a decent fighting stance and instead bore the class with your inept footwork.

tkd_ha

I also must admit that in comparison to many other martial arts, karate is by no means the bottom of the heap.  Discount Krav Maga lessons at the local Mixed Martial Arts Club for example would make any Israeli soldier cringe.  And TaeKwondo shall forever remain unchallenged as the best daycare centre.  So take heart that while karate is not exactly the pinacle of the arts, it’s nowhere near the bottom either.

#4. Karate can be good recreation

For reasons that escape me, karate can be a lifelong recreation for some.  True, these are people you probably want to limit your time around but I suppose at the end of the day they’re doing what brings them joy.

The right club can also provide killer workouts, especially advanced classes.  90 minutes of non stop static postures, kata, and kumite will certainly help the body stay in shape.

#3.  Karate can help kids grow.

You know what kids these days need?  More pushups and less Xbox.  More Lego and less Minecraft.  Seriously, whenever I see a kid gawking at an iDevice/Android and spending hours doing sweet jack-squat… literally wasting their youth away on virtual garbage…it makes my blood boil.  Karate can be a beautiful antidote that encourages them to spend less time working out the thumbs for the benefit of the fake world and instead working out the body and character for the real one.  All I can say is if your kid spends more time in front of an iPad than rolling in mud and climbing a tree ( +1 qualifer if they chop it down ), you may want to rethink your child’s best interests.

fakekid

Most dojo’s have a creed of sorts.  Mine was the Dojo Kun which had 5 basic club rules that more or less asked its members not to be douche-bags and steal money from old ladies.  I admit that this is solid gold for any kid, especially when they’re stuck in a public education system than is devoid of any ethical training or character building.  Of all the things I appreciate from my young karate years, the sense of belonging to a group of guys that supposedly stood for truth, justice and the Canadian Way really guided me at a time when I needed it.

guardian2

#2. Karate can provide an opportunity for success

Try hard enough and long enough, I guarantee you’ll get that wonderful black belt that has absolutely no value outside your dojo walls.  But that’s not to say it’s worthless as it takes a fair bit of effort and dedication to get that goal.  Unlike many TaeKwondo clubs that hand out black belts with a free Burger Barn coupon, a black belt in most karate styles can be seriously hard work to obtain.

For most people, such hard gained accomplishments are a vital part of getting a taste for success.  But aside from success, there is a far more valuable skill karate can teach…

#1. Karate can teach you the rare, wonderful skill of failure.

When I was a young parrot I was sort of wandering without direction until my parents put me in a karate club.  The instructor was a kindly man from Kenya and I could barely understand a word he spoke, but he turned out to be a major influence on my development as a growing man.  He taught me how to be confident, strong, yet remain humble in that strength.

But I was also taught another invaluable lesson…failure.  Yes, believe it or not, you can, and probably will, fail at a belt examination.  And if you’re going for a black belt, probably several times.

Sports in general play by a different set of rules than what is taught in school.  Martial arts are no different.  But it is nonetheless an important lesson to learn in life when the schools spend so much time telling little Jimmy his finger painting is a sign of incredible talent.  Karate can teach him that no matter how good his intentions, at the end of the day it’s the output quality that matters.

kidpaint

Some might be shocked to hear that elementary schools no longer grade by the A, B, C, D…and the well deserved classic “you suck” F.  No, you can’t fail the little grubs anymore because somewhere along the way we got the idea that self esteem was more important than a generation capable of having tour busses going to Mars.  In a world of happy little dimwits, it’s at least a small comfort to know that in karate you can always have the chance of getting a big fat and well deserved thumbs down for your lacklustre skills and motivate you to put in some effort.

  

© 2013 – 2015, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

About Author

John Paul Parrot ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.

  • Mushin

    Very nicely put DP. I would have to add just one thing….the black belt intimidation factor. It’s great! I do practice traditional karate and I did earn my black belt (at least I think so) but I can also differentiate between practical fighting skills from impractical fighting skills. However, fortunately for me and many other black belts those who don’t practice martial arts just think that when you tie that belt around your waist you become superman. In some ways I guess we are. Instead of an S on the chest we get a black belt and instead of tights we get white pajamas/scrubs and instead of being virtually invincible we get the power of intimidation. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit far fetched so as to this matter I digress. I do agree any activity that encourages kids to get off their asses and move more than just their thumbs has to have at least some value (and yes as much as I hate to admit it that includes TKD too). But what is the deal with kids today not tasting the bitter taste of defeat? When I was a kid participation trophies didn’t exist and second place was first loser. All that sliver metal did for me was make me hungry for the gold. Anything less than best of the best pushed me and made me train that much harder. To quote one of the greatest generals of all time “I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed!” (that is a quote from the original GSP, George S. Patton. The hardest mofo that ever lived!) You think a man with a nickname like “old blood and guts” settled for second best hell no he didn’t! Anyway I guess the point I am trying to make is kids today are damn near useless and if we keep letting them get away with being lazy we are all in a lot of trouble. We think we have it bad now wait till our kids generation starts running our country. Well, I have rambled and complained enough so I am going to call it right there before I go off on a “you wanna know what I think is wrong with our country today” rant. In any case thanks again DP for another entertaining article but I want to issue you a challenge. Come up with 5 reasons TKD isn’t useless. Dare I say it isn’t possible. You came up with one already and that is daycare. The gauntlet has been thrown down! Ready, set, four more, go…

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Wow…that’s a pretty big challenge to give TKD five points! How about I take a little time to think that one through before I commit!

      Love the Patton reference. That guy was so tough he made John Wayne look like David Bowie.

    • Henry

      RE: the intimidation factor, I think it’s true that people who don’t practice fighting often regard black belts with a sense of awe. I’m more worried about the folks who make a habit of cracking skulls though and I’m sure they’ve mown down enough people who “know karate” not to be scared by any article of clothing…

    • Carl Tomacruz

      You had me at daycare, man! You had me at daycare! Hahaha!

  • Dave

    I liked this a lot better than your “Worthless” article. I have my black belt and competed for most of my teenage years (*cough* state and national kata and kumate championships *cough*) and I have come to much the same conclusions about karate as you. It’s not worthless, especially if you have a good instructor (I was lucky enough to have a great one), but the main thing it teaches you is confidence, not how to fight.

    • DAYTRADER44

      And confidence about your ability to be violent, is often deadly. How many times does just a regular fight and we dont seem to have those any more but a regular fight where 2 guys just duke it out until one guy says I give, or the other guy is laying on the floor either out cold or not a threat? First of all these days, it seems the proper “etiquette” is to keep stomping him in the head to make sure he is out. What they dont tell you is that at that point you are now the aasailant and will go to prison if the cops are called because you are hitting a man no longer a threat to you! Did your school go into all those specifics on how to stay out of jail? A few?

      Also, therte is no right answer. I have hear of karate guys tell me to my face that every time they had to fight they just made sure the they got the guy in the distance/position they wanted and them bam! Out of nowhere, out of sight comes that frightening side kick to the knee and if that lands with just 75% of your weight behind it, the fights over, and your opponent might be going to the hospital for a long time…and sadly….you the one that was attacked may be charged criminally as you have to prove that much force is warranted.(Yes it sucks but in many states its the law) My point is that Ive met fighters from many styles, even street fighters ewith no style who have womn every fight theyve been in…….and used the same thing over and over because it juts comes out so naturally that no..the wrestler, the jui-jitsu guy, the JKD guy, the Tai chi “dancer”, the hsing yi man, the boxer, the wing chun guy, all never saw it coming. And one reason is…………….they didnt train for that!!!!!! Heres the litmus test for your art. Use your teacher who we hope is a lot better than you. Ask yourself, if the technique your teacher just did, to drop you to the mat faster than a box of rocks would work” against 2 convicts in prison that are in for murder, and the murder did not include any guns, knives or traditional weapons! Is your sensei or Guru, going to take out 2 animals that would kill him buy bashing a plastic food tray over his head and with the pieces, slice him so badly,he bled out in 30 seconds, and Ive seen it live on the tv docs called “LOCK-DOWN and LOCK-UP.” several times!
      As Mark “The Animal” Mac-Young” will attest(AUTHOR OF 3 GAZILLION BOOKS ON MARTIAL ARTS BY NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON! as well as prison guard Rory Miller who is his buddy by the way….. will both tell you that “What good is any technique oif its never been tried on the street where the rubber meets the road.”

      Do we all really think those Aikido masters could actually flip 15 or 20 guys all over the place with wrist locks as we see in demonstrations? Or in a Seagal movie? My opinion, and I defer to much better fighters than myself like Mac Young and Miller, is that when a murderer in prison gets out…he doesnt have an orange jump suit on that says “Ex-Inmate. If you are lucky you will have a few tell tale signs sich as tattoos only in great or black, tattoos that run all the way up his neck and if his entire upper body is covered with tattoos, you better assume first this guy has done a lot of time and survived, with some very, very bad people. Now, this guy doesnt know what martial artists do, he only knows that if you piss him off, he will want an advantage. If he sizes you up as not being a tough guy, chances are he will just use the element of surprise and cold cock you with a looping sucker punch and if your lucky, your head will not hit the pavement and cause you to go to the hospital and even more lucky is he will be content to go back to his beer or whatever he is doing.
      Scenario #2-You are the martial artist. The bad guy senses you “might” not be such an easy mark, so, because you pissed him off that he now has to hospitalize you because you were rooting against his team in the sports bar you both were in(isn’t that a good reason to want to break someone’s nose?) But what he does is he goes to strategy #2-He just suddenly starts acting weird. he will either apologize to you for something you nhave no idea what hes talking about, or…he will offer to buy you a beer or make a nice comment about your shirt, and in every way, he is (just as an actor does) stepping outside his own self into a new personna so you cant read him. And the minute you let him get too close, your drink is still in your hands(bad! bad! bad!) and you are not even looking straight at him but the TV, this will be the 1/2 second( the half beat musicians “work with” to break up or instill a rhythm) and suddenly you have blood pouring down you from every part of your face, neck and body. It all took 2 seconds or less. What you did not see was that as he was admiring yur shirt collar and getting your eyes to neck level, he was opening up the exacto knife or box cutter hidden in his hand partially up his sleeve that 50 stitches and 2 police reports later and a “Youre so lucky to be alive with all the blood you lost from 3 doctors” and your family screaming and they dont even know what happened to you. They just know violence occured to you their dad, their son and it cant compute to them that this happened at all. After all, civilized people dont cut each other up over football games do they?

      You see, the reason he had to do that to you, was because in his usual environment, someone also has a similar weapon and will be trying to do that to him first! He has no conception of what a fair fight is. he saw his father break bottles over mens heads many times as a kid, saw his mom get beaten for saying the wrong thing at the erong time, and he himself was beaten just for expressing an opinion. So as he slipped away, with all your faily screaming “call 911!!!!!!” and OMG OMG!!!!!” there was one guy who saw the whole thing from the back of thebar.(Often distance gives you a huge edge in seeing what is going on. You didnt use that gift when you walked in, you just assumed its a sports bar to watch football, what could possibly happen,?” So now the guy in the back is deciding if he even wants to get involved. That would mean, giving a very very long statement to the police, probably going down town to look at mug shots and in other words, he misses the whole football game and his whole night is ruined. And being he also is a savvy guy about criminals, he knows if he comes forward to testify, who will protect him if this guy belongs to a gang and they somehow get your street address and come to your house?

      He decides its better to shut up, watch the ball game and go home.(What would you do?) Now, if you trained in street tactics instead of karate, you still may have gone down. But youd at least have had a 50-50 chance to not get hurt at all, and if you did, would be able to run away as soon as the first slasj took place and your family would have been given instructions what to do….long long before you ever went into this place. I’m talking years! .

      Now lets go back 100 yrs to when Gitchen Funakashi the father of modern Okinawan Karate was around. He is in a bar having a drink. He only knows traditional karate. But the difference is, this guy practices 12 hrs a day 6-7 days a week from age 13-45 and then in middle age cuts it back to 6 hrs a day 6 days a week. (Yeah, yeah, I know…OMG!) So this guy just by the amount of training he has done, lets even say he never did more than light sparring, he is going to be as fine tuned as a samaraii sword is polished for 80 yrs by a master craftsman. In other words, before the attacker even gets it in his head he wants to hurt someone, Tr Gitchen not only already feels this mans intention, but if his auto-biography is even 60% correct, he already has either left and gone home so there is now zero% chance of him getting hurt, or he mat with his intent alone, move several of the bystanders out of the way so they dont get hurt when this guy goes off.

      In fact a true story about this master is he was in a pub when a drunken knife fighter came in and was threatening the whole bar. Mr funakoshi asked the bartenderr for a bread knife and throws it right into the floor boards between the loudmouths legs. He siad “Please pick that up, you will need it if you are going to have any chance to beat me in a fight.” The guy almost cr&%pped in his pants, apologized, left quickly and was never seen again. Thats the Clint Eastwood-Bruce lee ending many martial arts dream of. But unless you already have talent and you are willing to train day and night, putting it above family, money,friends and yes…even sex!…then maybe after 10 or 15 yrs, you can do this also. But did you notice I said “maybe.” Why maybe.” Because as another poster on this thread said…training cannot make up for a fighting or worse…a killers instinct in a deranged human being. If it does…youd have to be sooooo very much ahead of the attackers skill level to deal with it.

      • dAYTRADER44

        BEST SCENARIO TO PROVE POINT WE ALL WOULD LOVE TO SEE: Does everyone remember steven seagal’s videos of when he was in Japan and was throwing his students around like candy bar wrappers? Why isnt everyone taking Aikido, then? Welll we all know that his students are not real aailants. If these attackers were just let out of prison and steve could do that to them, there would be a line outside every aikido school in the country.(and the bad ones,figure 50%) would fold reaaaaaaal fast!)

        So what would happen if someone slipped 2 or 3 ex inmates into his class but didnt tell steven. What do I think ‘could” very well happen. First i think as steven was climbing the steps up to his dojo, he would sense something wrong. He would actually feel it in his gut. Now lets say that students come and go so fast steven cant remember the faces of anyone but his most devoted students so the new faces by itself would not be the total tip off. Yet, when steven looked at the faces of these “ex-convicts” he would feel their low energy. He may not know what is about to occur, but he knows something is wrong.(this also takes years. although if you have natural talent for martial arts it may be a lot less) So these convicts who have been paid by a TV station to pretend they are students, who attack seagal with real weapons they would have the ability to get in prison and try to kill him. Ig they dont hurt him they get nothing. If cant hurt him but make him look not so professional they get $50. If they can send him to the hospital or worse they get $5000, and if they kill him with no fuss or counter from steven, then they get $10,000. “Ok line up!” The sensei announces to the class “GO!” and now they come 3 and 4 at a time to attack steven. What I believe would happen is this, Steven would either
        a)-Have to hurt all his students a little bit more than usual because he knows something is wrong but not exactly who or where . HE WOULD STAY AWAY FROM HIS STUDENTS TO FLUSH OUT THE BAD ENERGY.” Much the way a pro boxer stays away from an unknown opponent in the first round to feel him out. And then suddenly whether it be the “devil in his eyes,” that murderous manson look” or just the “intention” the ex cons carried with them, steven would have to allow them to hurt him first or legally he is in a world of doo doo. So we would either see at this point one of 2 things….steven now “know” a real possibly fatal attack is coming his way an dhe must survive it, yet he cannot kill all his students to get to the bad guys, he would have to either keep his composure or….he might freeze up when one of the good student5s attacked him a bit harder because he wouldnt understand why steven kept moving away that steven if he was not the true champion he is supposed to be, may over-react and break a lot of bones in an innocent persons body. And then while this is happening the real convicts let their shanks slide out of their sleeve and they stab Sensei Seagal to death. One or the other! But, on the street, agaisnt a drunken ex footbal player type guy who has always used his weight to “literally” push guys around, I say steven would use him as a ping pong ball. In other words….ask yourself…if my teacher had to go up against one of 3 kinds of people, which one would he prevail against. All, some or none? These are the choices:

        1)-2 guys that just got out of prison(for violent offenses) that walk up to him demanding money yet showing no weapons and dont try to put their hands on him….yet.

        2) An ex golden glove boxing champ in his 20’s who is now 45, a bit of a belly and who might have 3 or 4 beers in him just looking to start a fight but its still at the talking stage now.(It might never escalate,( your sensei doesn’t know)

        3-Some guy who has tattoos all over, an ex- mma guy who after 1 yr couldnt make it and now takes his failure as a man out on anyone he see’s as weaker because in his world, your worth is judged and valued by how good you can fight.

        4-3 guys with gang colors on that have no weapons out, and according to what you can see as its summertime and theres nothing worn but t-shirts and not so loose jeans, they may not have any weapons and probbaly no gun and they are hastling your sensei into afight as they heard him (same sweet sports bar) talking about martial arts to someone there and they keep egging him on with “so show that to me, if you think that would work.” And they wont back down until he makes his move….but now 3 minutes have gone by and your sensei is still just talking, hoping the bartender had thr sense to call the cops so nobody gets hurt.

        The question is….which of these 4 scenarios, (so..i made it 4, so what? lol) would your sensei have to “not do well in” for you to lose faith in his ability and for you to quit his school?

        MY CHOICE: He would have to come out on top whether using violence or not in every single one of those situations or I would not train with him again, because all 4 of these attacks are giving him the most precious gift…”time”! And if he cant go 4 for 4 in these situations I know there are a lot of guys out there that could. Maybe not even 50% of instructors but notice I said a lot of guys….not ..”most.” Thats why, when you join a school, if you cant say about the instructor, IF I WAS EVER IN A FIGHT HE WOULD BE ONE GUY I’D LOVE TO HAVE WATCHING MY BACK!…….if you cant say that, keep on going and training and learning till you do find someone you can say that about. And by the way…in boxing, the best trainers in the world couldnt fight. So…even a mediocre fighter might have some gems to give you on your “journey.” .You may have joined his class for a divine reason. IT DOENT MEAN YOU STAY MARRIED TO HIM! -)

        As well, you do not ever want to have as an instructor who is very “willing” to show you how he’d do in all 4 of those situations like the Marin Cove bad sensei character from The Karate Kid. And yea, what Mr. Miaggi did to him with mere shifts of weight in the parking lot……………yeah, from a true master…thats real stuff!!!! YOU JUST WONT GET THAT FOR A LOT OF YEARS…SO WHAT WILL YOU HAVE TO GET “YOU” OUT OF A LIFE THREATENING SITUATION IF YOU NARE “NOT MR. MIAGGI?

  • http://twitter.com/roeeorland Ro’ee Orland

    about Krav Maga (not Krava, have no idea where you crazy kids get your info) – it literally means “contact fighting”. But if you wana know what Israeli soldiers actually think of it – one day after an especially tiring session, our C.O. took us aside and said “guys, this is all good and well, but the philosophy you should be practising in combat situations is this: ‘if you have a chair, break it on the other guy’s head’ “

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      The irony of that statement…I used to speak basic Hebrew! Anyway, the spelling has been corrected. :)

  • kickass

    Why not just write an article on 5 reasons why religion is useless, or 5 reasons why people with a last name beginning with “S” are useless/useful. Stereo types based on your lame martial arts experience? Your dojo experience sucked. Therefore, all dojo halls and all karate schools are useless. Hmmm. Martial arts is like life. There are great schools, average schools, and schools below par. Just because you were blind enough to attend and pay a below par school does not relate to the entire art of karate as being useless. If you didn’t learn how to knock a bad guy into tomorrow it comes down to your school that you paid money to or your piss poor training. Maybe you should create an article about useless internet blog authors who don’t use their real names. Pussy on so many levels.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      The intense hatred from karate-ka on this article only solidifies my view….especially point #4. I’ve attended many dojos and the basic principles are the same regardless of instructor. I therefore won’t lessen my argument by resorting to childish name-calling.

      In all fairness, I’ve also stated why karate is NOT useless. But I guess massive link button at the bottom of the post is a hard target for a hack-karate practitioner to hit.

  • http://www.kyokushinblog.com/ Brett

    Sounds like you trained at a Mcdojo and assume they’re all like that. Sad that you can’t tell (or acknowledge) the difference, even in adulthood.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      On the contrary, I trained at several non-profit highly traditional dojos under the watchful eye of our local ISKF/JKA rep. The quality of training was quite good for what you can expect from karate. As a kid, I think it rocked. As an adult karate is a poor recreational choice when so many better options are available.

      Now my short run with TaeKwondo…THAT was a McDojo.

      • http://www.kyokushinblog.com/ Brett

        JKA is an umbrella organization so large that it includes many “fine” Mcdojo. I would invite you to drop into any IKO affiliated Kyokushin dojo before you try to judge the style. Bring your mouth guard.

        You say that any MMA fighter can mop the floor with a Karate fighter under MMA rules. Maybe. But flip the rules around and put an MMA fighter in Karate rule set and he’ll get creamed by an equally trained Karate guy. Your whole point here is that MMA guys fight better than non MMA guys under MMA rules. Well, DUH.

        • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

          For clarity, I did not attend a McDojo during my karate years. Not one. I’ve been doing this schtick for 15 years and I am more than qualified to make that statement. So we can discount that theory right from the start.

          As for MMA…it’s more of a general observation. If an MMA fighter was invited to a karate tournament and had to play by karate rules they may or may not do so well. My observation was more of an “outside the ring” point.

        • Eric

          The problem with this reasoning is that MMA is the most open ruleset legally allowed. It more closely approximates an actual, unarmed fight.

          But in fairness, Shotokan Karate is the striking base for a few successful UFC fighters. Modern Muay Thai tends to be more successful (or at least popular), and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all but required anymore though.

          In the end, the best fighters are Mixed Martial Artists, they’re not dedicated to a specific style.

  • Paul Botha

    So karate is good at instilling a whole lot of peripheral things, other than that which it practices in class? Like a peculair alternative to aerobics? A basis for something better? So after 20 years I learned foot-work and basic kicks and punches? Hahaha…. MMA better than karate? Says who?
    When I watch MMA, most often I see piss-poor kicking and punching technique from the people with no backgound, and removal of many realistic techniques from the allowed list in a fight, so MMA is clearly a step down from karate. But hey, get yourself some tats, a skew cap and a colourful t-shirt and board shorts, a gym with a mean sounding name, and now you’ve stepped up. (golf clap…). You can train as hard as you like in your tough-sounding gym, but shit technique is still shit technique…hope the trainer has a clue.

    • Carl Tomacruz

      Sure, MMA fighters may not punch and kick in the same “picture perfect” way that Shotokan Karate players do, with your straight and upright torsos, chambered kicks and hands on the hips, and deafening yelling (kiai), but the results speak for themselves. You’ve got people, among others, like Bas Rutten, Alistair Overeem, and Rampage Jackson who can deliver knockout blows, and they don’t need to be “picture-perfect” in delivering ’em.

      Not even Lyoto (Ryota) Machida does it the ideal Shotokan way. Nor does George St-Pierre, whose striking style now resembles Muay Thai more than Kyokushin. But hey, they still can pack a punch.

  • Former Mr. Karate

    I really like what you have said. About both TKD and karate. I
    actually started TKD when I was six and then started karate when I was 20. I
    completely agree with what you have said about karate and tkd. I never got past
    a first degree in tkd due to my lack of love for the style. I currently
    practice kyokushin karate and it is almost as useless as the rest of the
    styles. There are some positive aspects about it but they also live in a fake
    world that does not resemble the real world of fighting. And like you
    said there are advantages to having studied things like karate and tkd, and I
    would like to point out a few that I found in my life.

    First of all I currently have 5 black belts and of those only
    one has a little bit of relevance. I have two in two different styles of tkd,
    one in traditional karate, one in traditional sword, and finally one in
    kyokushin karate, what they call “Full contact, bare knuckle karate”.
    Funny thing about this is, that they are not allowed to punch in the face,
    elbow or clinch in a sparring match or tournament. Kind of gives
    the wrong idea about what real fighting or “full contact, bare
    knuckle” fighting should be about. Anyhow, just in case you are
    wondering the traditional sword is just as bad as the traditional karate.
    Its funny I really had a knack for finding useless styles and trying to
    make something good out of them. So here it is:

    TKD kicking- my 29 years practicing tkd style kicks, and
    maintain that flexibility has made my kicks very versatile. When I later
    learned kickboxing and Muay Thai, every one in the class was shocked and scared
    of my kicks, because it was very easy for me to do their kind of kicks and at
    the same time none in the class had even thought of doing something like the
    splits or having flexible legs. So that’s something. And the same goes for my
    kicking technique in Kyokushin karate. So there’s that.

    Karate traditional- doing all those katas for years was pretty
    pointless as you said, but I was able to move up very fast in the kyokushin
    world due to my TKD kicks and my shotokan forms so there’s one more thing (I
    guess). Other than that I got nothing.

    Kyokushin “full contact karate”- I really don’t like
    their way of fighting and a lot of their BS that they live in, However, I do
    like their body conditioning. Their sparing style is to kick and punch each
    other in the body and legs as hard as they can, so while this is useless in the
    real world of fighting, it does make the body nice and hard, so when I catch
    the occasional body hit in my kickboxing class I don’t feel much. So yay for
    “full contact karate”

    Japanese sword (Iaido and kendo) is not any better. The iaido
    people are caught in tradition that has been dead for so long they don’t even
    remember what it is like to actually spar in the real world or at all.
    Kendo is all about getting points and then yelling real loud where you
    hit so the ref and judges can here you, VERY useful in the real world.
    Unfortunately I have a third dan in that crap style and I wish I did not.
    I recently started learning knife and stick fighting in silat and WOW!
    What a difference. But I suppose I have to thank Japanese sword for giving me
    the base in something of holding a wooden and metal bladed weapon and trying to
    attack with it. I seem to be learning faster than most in the class.

    To wrap up what I have said. I’m currently a blue belt in BJJ,
    enjoy practicing and sparring in kickboxing, silat and for some reason I’m
    still in kyokushin (with one foot out the door but it does keep my body tough)
    Although TKD, Karate and Japanese Sword, have no real meaning in the fighting
    world they have made my body versatile and tough and able to grasp body
    movement concepts that allude most for years. It pains me to say this,
    but I would not have traded all the BS I learned, because I did get certain
    benefits out of it, some of which you stated. And it has made me the
    martial artist that I am today. If you are interested to see me in action
    here is my youtube vid you’ll get the idea:

    Anyhow great blogs! And keep up the good work!

  • Kuroi

    Just like Brett says, visit any IKO dojo. And get fists rammed into your stomach, and taste kyokushin.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Your style must be pretty insecure if it can’t handle crtisisism. I’ll walk into an IKO dojo and they wouldn’t do squat. What are you, 12?

  • Robert

    I like your article – even the original one where you rag on Karate. It’s entertaining, much like The Karate Kid. It shouldn’t be personal to people but for people who are serious about martial arts, your points are felt by other – correctly or incorrectly.

    1. There’s nothing wrong with karate, even Tae Kwon Do. Money and the dojos that make tons of it have made Martial Arts what it is. Many very good “masters” have sold out and become belt factories for 6 year olds with self-esteem problems. This is why lineage and style means nothing anymore. I can say that Shotokan are notorious for not sparring with any power, but Tae Kwon Do does this too. The bottom line is most people nowadays want to play martial arts. the minute they get hurt they get upset and quit. It will happen to MMA too, just give it time.

    2. Bruce Lee and Ralph Macchio made tons of dojo owners an awful lot of money and they owe a debt of gratitude to both of those guys. But when money overtook the training, this is where MMA stepped up to fill that void. Personally I think fighting on the ground is very overrated – if you’ve ever been in a real fight that’s the last place you want to be. And if sparring rules are what you base your street fighting skills on, all styles will fail you, even MMA. In the real world you can throw dirt in someone’s face, poke them in the eye, grab their crotch and squeeze, etc. There’s no best style, just who has the will to use what he’s learned. This is why 5-year old black belts make serious adults avoid learning how to defend themselves because they have no interest in wrestling (on one end) or playing tag (the other end.)

  • MikeM9281

    You probably got ripped off. Next time you go to a Karate school, make sure the Instructor knows quite a few styles.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Won’t be a next time.

  • Jeremy

    To start, I am a 32 year old beginner to Shorin ryu Karate. (let the trolling begin and end, deep breath, okay) I also happen to know that karate is not going to make me a master fighter that cannot be beaten. Side effect of being over 30 when I started, logic. I am a personal fitness trainer that has trained, off and on, for 20 years in a variety martial arts. I also served in the US Marines. I know what it takes to kill/maim with my bare hands. It’s ugly. I know, without karate, that I am fully capable of breaking ribs with a single punch, because I’ve done it. Not proud of it, but there you go. I say this, because I want to be clear that I completely sympathize with your criticisms of the karate cult. The flip side? Most of the founders of karate, and the other various Japanese martial arts, have clearly stated that no one style covers all possible scenarios. Musashi Miyamoto emphasized that a fighter should be proficient with all the tools and skills of war, because what you don’t know, in fighting, will kill you. So, why karate, and why am I beginning now? Because it’s another tool. I learned some interesting tricks in TKD at the beginning that, on occasion, have actually been useful. I’ve learned knife fighting, eye gouges, arm bars, choke holds, how much weight it takes to break a bone/dislocate a joint/tear off an ear. I was taught by my Gunny that there are two rules to any real fight to the death: 1. Win; and 2. no matter the cost. I’ve been fortunate to have a collection of sensei with various approaches, from the street fight mentality of “this looks good in kata, now here’s how it looks when you’re trying to keep your head attached and heart beating,” to the traditional approach that can, if practiced right, assist the proprioceptic learning that can make certain things second nature. I’ve been fortunate to have been put in kumite drills against much more advanced students with better form but faulty tactics, which helped me find strengths and weaknesses in my own style, and have been encouraged to make karate my own as filtered through my combat training. The biggest flaw in modern karate, or any martial art, is that the practical approach was lost when it became a sport, and not something learned with the seriousness of life and death behind it. But to reiterate, karate was never intended by any of the styles’ founders to stand alone. It was always meant to be another tool to use to survive another day. But turn it into a sport-cult for yuppies’ kids, and yeah, it’s as useless as a rubber knife in Fallujah.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Well spoken and thank you for sharing that!

      • Smoke

        It also depends on the school you go to. And are dedicated of a student you are to the discipline.

        • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

          I think a lot of people give it 110% at the start. I know I did right up until I had my “walk in the snow” moment and never returned.

          Things just end. For just about everyone, karate will have an end somewhere around the time they decide to build a family. Some things are just more important.

  • Blankman

    As with anything, you have to take what you are doing into perspective. I take Taekwondo with my daughter. You are right to say that by itself it is not adequate for self defense, you have to know how to adapt it to a real fight and understand that the proper forms and stances are more about muscle memory and fitness than they are about “stand this way and do this when you get into an actual fight.” Personally, I have been in more actual fights than I am proud of and see that a lot of the black belts around me would get their clock cleaned by a true angry fighter.
    That all said, it is about fitness and building confidence in my daughter (mostly just fitness for me). You say there are better forms of fitness but at 36 I don’t agree with you. There really aren’t a lot, I definitely don’t want to spend time in front of a TV, alone, doing P90X, or at a gym pointlessly lifting weights. I’d rather have goals to strive for and kicking someone in the head is about as good of a legal stress relief as I have seen.
    Anyway, like I said before, it is about perspective and understanding the fact that you are not training to be a super hero but if in a pinch and you are in a bad situation, a proper front kick to the mid section will end a conflict immediately.

  • Me

    I myself do karate and have for years and I slightly agree with both your articles I agree its good as a foundation I have picked things up from different styles such as certain techniques and have even learned weapons and I one day plan to create my own style I am 2nd dan I know sai, katana, nunchucks, bo and a bit of escrimmar( hope I spelled it right !) and soon I will be going to the worlds martial arts games in Canada all that by the age of 14 and I started about 8 but when I first started I had absolutely no confidence it definitely helps with confidence and coping with failure there was a point where I stopped putting effort into it and when I graded for my brown belt (can’t remember what tab I was going for) I failed I was heartbroken from then on I put massive amounts of effort into everything and thankfully I am one of the ones who has found a great teacher (or sensei whatever you want to call them) and I do a minimum of 12 hours a week sometimes more and we get taught more than first one to tap most of the competitions I have been to have a continuous section often with a full contact not sure how it is wherever you are but in GB we have continuos still love the posts you show the upsides and downsides of karate and never knew about this website before but I guess I may keep my eye on it for more posts can I get a high five *highfive*

  • Richard McEvoy

    Having done Karate for a long time then Tai Chi and bits of Judo, Aikido etc, I came to the “less than startling” conclusion that Karate is (or rather should be) just old fashion bare knuckle boxing where you are allowed to use other parts of your body to strike, kick, lock and throw and trap your opponent’s guard. the main trick is to put your body behind the block as well as the strike, lock, kick, throw. Which takes a bit of learning because westerners (and probably everyone else) get stuck into just blocking with their arm. The second main trick is to tangle with the opponent and stay in close rather than box from a distance. The third main trick is that it is meant to be full contact, not a game of tig.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Have to be honest, Tai Chi intrigues me. I like the idea that it is something one can grow old with as opposed to karate where I’ve seen far too many people with serious joint issues once they hit 45+. I’ve done a bit of it in the past but may have to revisit it with more devotion sometime soon.

  • TKD

    Taekwondo can do all of that!!!

  • Regnery Cruz Jr

    I agree and the same time disagree. I started Karate when I was a teen (Goju Ryu) I always felt as if something was wrong with the school, many of the things were king of useless. This day I know I was on a Mcdojo which many Karate schools and Tkwd concist off, and I am shame to tell it. The first thing I notice is how many children were in the class, and that is was all about money kind of a fun place for your kids. However here is were I disagree and many REAL martial artist who have search for a good school will also agree. I went by 4 or 6 schools of Karate, all of of crap until I meet Sensei Saito. A class of full adults, the training is brutal many times I have come out of there with a bloody uniform as we don’t use protection “real Karate NOT western water down karate was though to soldiers”. So I decided to attend a MMA school for a month to see if my dojo was good. Standing I was able to take any one down, I was more aggressive, hit harder and faster I knew how to take punishment, I took down US Marines and rising MMA stars. But, my biggest draw back was ground fighting, every time I was on the ground I would mostly loose. I have fixed that error, by taking jujitsu classes and till this day I do both. To say Karate is a good start for children, to a certain degree is true. However just as I have shown you it depends on the mentality of the dojo, is it a sport and recreational place or is it a sparring gym. Real karate is meant to kill and destroy an oponent, the Japanese Imperial Army though both Judo and Karate to their soldiers and we all know how deadly were the Japs at close range in WW2.

  • Meh

    Ok… let me tell you, karate vs karate is good. Karate vs… any other martial art? No