Karate vs. Self-Defense

It has long been a feature, indeed a problem, that I have noticed in numerous Dojo where there is a special "Self-Defense" or "Women's Self Defense" course run in parallel with regular Karate classes.

Many years ago in the 1970's we had the same experience in Asano sensei's Honbu Dojo. If we were considering a self-defense course, we never really found anything but basic kihon (how to punch, slap and kick etc.) to be of much use; and we never looked much at Kata, be-cause at that time we were completely unaware of the valuable defensive waza contained within them.

We often had to look at other arts such as Ju-Jutsu for inspiration.

Given that in the last 20 or so years I, and a few others like me, have advanced almost beyond recognition the study and dissemination of valid and effective Kata Bunkai, it is - to me - a very strange phenomenon that the situation very largely still exists.

Why this should be brings me to a few conclusions, and I invite you to consider them in the light of your own Dojo or training.

The Problems

In the first place, Karate is "sold" to a potential student as a number of palliatives for modern life.

For kids - the majority of new students - it is sold to parents as an ideal way to get them fit and to tire them out and to impart discipline and confidence. Only as an afterthought is it stated that it would help them deal with the problem of bullying.

This, however, in most Dojo means teaching that as a very last resort, after "turning the other cheek" "making the bully your friend" and "telling an adult" there are possibly some basic physical techniques which can be used (but not the most effective ones)!

The importance of building character and discipline always come top of the list of selling points.   more...

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