Real Karate Does Not Look Like Karate!


This concept, that working Karate does not resemble the Karate that people are taught, is actually true throughout the martial arts. Shaolin done in combat does not look like classical wu shu. Kung fu doesn’t resemble kung fu, and so on.
The reason for this is that there is pretty, and then there is functional. A fellow teaches, or learns karate, and the instructor shows him something that looks good. Once one starts applying force to the technique, however, the technique must sometimes change to work.
Take a look at the classical wu shu back stance. The stance is so low on the back leg that the ankle is twisted and unable to support the weight of most attacks. Thus, one must change the shape of the form in order to make it work in real life.
Or, take a look at the common middle block in Karate. It swings sideways, and there is no structure, body or real weight behind it. The correct way to do this block is to shoot it out from the tan tien, which would put the weight and structure behind the thing.
The examples I have just given you, incidentally, represent the reasons why many classical arts fall apart in the Mixed Martial Arts ring. The artists have been trained to look good, and not to make it work. To make something like Karate work in the MMA, or the UFC, one is going to have to change the whole structure of the thing.
Changing the structure of a martial art is not bad, if it makes the art work. Unfortunately, many teachers will scream, and one has to wonder why this is. After all, the fact that an art now works should be proof and satisfaction all in one.
I suppose what is at the heart of some teacher’s inability to change is the love of the mystery. What is happening in their minds is that they don’t understand what they are doing, but they have become convinced that if they just keep doing what they are doing, they will, eventually, understand it. Thus, they become blind to change, to what works, and, sadly, the potential of the true art.
The good news is that most martial artists I have encountered are willing to change. I show them basic matrixing principles, for instance, and they are glad to change. Thus, hold to the old only so long as it works, change to the new if it doesn’t, and watch the True Martial Arts explode across the face of this planet.

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