From the Art of Karate to Reality

By David Gomez

When does the “Art of Karate” cross over into the world of reality? With all the emphasis that’s placed on etiquette, health, technique and form at the Georgia Karate Academy/American JKA Karate Association (GKA/AJKA), we should never lose sight of the primary purpose for training: self defense.

The following is a collection of thoughts on self defense I wrote down during a lecture for AJKA instructors at the summer training camp of 1997. The lecture was conducted by the AJKA Chairman and Senior Instructor, Ray Dalke, and the former AJKA Technical Director, Les Safar. With over 35 years of experience in JKA style karate (since the early sixties), both speakers had a volume of history and personal insights to share. As this lecture had so much content, I thought it best to denote some of their thoughts in bullet form.

Do your best to seek the meaning of each thought as it pertains to your training in the martial arts. I’m sure it will aid you in taking the art of karate to reality.

• Karate is self defense - the sum total of all your training.

• Cycles of thought - youngers (those of little experience) usually want to fight to be challenged; olders (those with experience) usually want to survive - self defense.

• When it comes to repetitious training - 1,000 to 10,000 equals one, maybe.

• Popularity of women in the martial arts is a fairly new thing (at the turn of the century, only/mostly men from the samurai class trained in karate). Karate technique must continue to be examined, modified and improved to meet the specific needs of women.

• Technique is designed for a sharp focus of study.

• Ten pounds behind whatever you do, if you weigh only 10 pounds, is tremendous. A 10 pound rock dropped on your head can damage you. A 100 pound body behind a punch or a kick can be quite damaging also!

• As instructors, we look to invoke a body reaction from a student. This may save his or her life one day if they ever need to move and move quickly.

• Lower contraction creates dense weight.

• Physiology of power is not unique to karate. What makes karate unique is that we look to make terminating contact.

• Focusing is the beginning of the “finishing feeling” when delivering a technique.

• The conscious mind must decide to make an action.

• When it come to self defense, especially in reference to women (but not limited to women), start with the premise “how dare you.”

• Study your technique to the point of being able to explain it. Youngers will learn it faster than you did if you do.

• Practice makes permanent.


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