What is Traditional Karate?

By Iain Abernethy

The title of this article is ‘What is Traditional Karate?’ And that may seem like a strange question for a traditional karateka to ask! But it is my view that we often do not think what ‘traditional’ actually means, and how that impacts upon the art we practice. The dictionary definition of ‘traditional’ is, “adhering to a long established procedure.” To play devil’s advocate for a moment, I’d suggest that the majority of karate practised in this country today is not traditional! My reasoning is that much of today’s karate is not “adhering to a long established procedure” but is in fact only a few decades old.

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The 10 Precepts of Anko Itosu

By Iain Abernethy

What we refer to as “traditional” in the martial arts often isn't traditional at all. Mention traditional karate today and people immediately think of white gis, coloured belts and marching up and down the hall in lines. All of which are modern practises and none of which would be recognisable to founders of the art.

itosu_ten_preceptsAll of the past masters were innovators and none of them went on to teach the art exactly as it was taught to them. The true tradition has been one of constant change and it was only ever the core concepts that were supposed to remain constant. So what were the core concepts upon which the traditional art of karate was based?

There are not many written records on the history of karate due in no small part to the secrecy that originally surrounded the art and the bombing of Okinawa during World War Two. One important document we do have access to is Anko Itosu's 10 precepts of karate.

Anko Itosu (1832–1915) was one of karate's true innovators; he was the creator of the Pinan (Heian) kata and was responsible for introducing karate onto the Okinawan school system. To make karate suitable for children, Itosu watered down the karate he taught to them. As part of this, he started teaching kata without their applications so that the children could gain the physical benefits of kata training without irresponsibly giving them knowledge of the violent and brutal methods the kata were created to record.

It is my view that Itosu intend to foster two types of karate: the original combative karate and the new children's version. However, as we now know, it was the children's version that really took off and the ramifications of that are still being felt today. Itosu's modifications enabled the art to spread – it is arguable that karate would never have spread to mainland Japan and from there to the west without his modifications – but they undoubtedly meant it was a “de-clawed” version of karate that was popularised.

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Health & Fitness - Benefits of Wushu

Training in Wushu offers practitioners many health and fitness benefits. 

The many stances of Wushu build leg and core muscle (abdominal & lower back) strength and the necessity of holding poses while training builds strong stabilizing muscles. Weapons practice works like weight-bearing exercises, to build good arm and back strength as well. A Wushu practitioner who practices t art on a regular basis, with no other supplemental exercise programme can develop a lean toned muscular look similar to that of a dancer.he

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What is Kyu-Shin-Do ?

What is KyuShinDo and What it is not!

By Sensei Henry Ellis

Kenshiro Abbe Sensei 1915 – 1985
Kyu = Desire – Yearn – Sphere – Circle – Search – Study.
Shin = Heart – New – Spirit – True – To be true to ones self.
Do = Way or Path , a way of life or self discipline.

I honestly believe that Kyu-Shin-Do has lost its true path in Britain and has become many things to many people.

sensei_abbeKenshiro Abbe Sensei (pictured right) came to Britain in 1955 at the invitation of the London Judo Society ( LJS ). He considered the Judo that he saw to be too concerned with strength, also too physical and hard. It was his intent to introduce his theory of Kenshiro Abbe Sensei to the British Judoka. They in turn found it hard to understand that if they followed his teaching of Kyu-Shin-Do Judo which he himself had studied from as early as 1940 their own Judo skills would become stronger by technique rather than strength.

Abbe Sensei would often say when speaking of KyuShinDo that "one must have the right mind". On one occasion he lined up 31 Judoka dan grades, he walked along the line and informed each Judoka what technique he would use, and whether it would be left of right handed. Abbe Sensei then proceeded to throw each and every single one of the 31 students just as he had said. It is worth being reminded that Abbe Sensei was 40 years of age at that time.

In 1937 Kenshiro Abbe Sensei fought the great Japanese Judo legend Masahiko Kimura, Abbe Sensei beat Kimura and that was Kimura’s only defeat. Kimura Sensei said of Abbe Sensei after his defeat - “It was as if I was fighting a shadow and trying to catch the wind”

My good friend Gerry Gyngell Sensei said to me on this subject of KyuShinDo “ I believe it is as much about mental attitude as it is technique. I also believe that one can only learn by example and this ( I think ) is why so many failed to understand his teachings as they only looked at the physical and not the mental side of what Abbe Sensei was teaching.

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