Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Differences between Traditional Karate and Kobudo and Sport Karate

A traditional martial arts school located on the border of Chandler, Gilbert and Mesa Arizona
In Gilbert Arizona, there are many martial arts schools that offer sport martial arts and only a few that offer traditional martial arts. Traditional Karate & Kobudo Classes focus on the improvement of the individual through martial arts training, philosophy, and positive affirmations.

I remember one student who became a poster child of traditional karate. While I was teaching traditional karate, kobudo, jujutsu and self-defense classes at the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Bushido Dojo in Laramie and the Sandan School of Martial Arts in Saratoga, Wyoming, I came across one woman who lacked any visible evidence of self-confidence. She stared at her feet and never looked anyone in the eye: it was a challenge to get her to say much of anything. I don't know what her background was like, but it likely did not include self-confidence boosters or praise. She started out as a white belt and showed up to class every day and took part in all of our karate demonstrations. After years of training at the University and in the downtown dojo in Laramie, she finally made it to shodan (1st dan black belt). At that point, she joined some of our other black belts and myself and traveled to the Juko Kai International Black Belt clinics. 

Hall of Fame Grandmaster of Shorin-Ryu Karate & Kobudo, Soke Hausel
poses with two of his outstanding instructors who were recently inducted
into the Seiyo Shorin-Ryu Hall of Fame. Sensei Paula Borea a Japanese-
America is of samurai lineage, and her husband, Sensei Bill Borea trained
in Japan and New Jersey prior to moving to Arizona. Grandmaster
Hausel is a Who's Who of Polymaths and loves to teach martial arts.
Somewhere along this lifetime journey, her shoes were no longer her focus and she looked everyone in the eye as she talked with confidence and became one of the more important contributors to the University of Wyoming Karate Club. Over the years, she reached the level of Sensei (teacher) with sandan (3rd dan) certification from Dai-Soke Sacharnoski of Juko Kai International and anyone around her could feel the self-confidence exude from her. It was a major change in her personality.  For those who do not know Dai-Soke Sacharnoski - he is arguably the best living martial artist in the world - so this was a great accomplishment for her.

At the Seiyo No Shorin-Ryu Karate Kobudo Hombu Dojo at the University of Wyoming, we taught traditional martial arts with a focus on being positive. We ended all classes with positive dojo kun: a group of positive philosophical phrases that all of our students learn in Japanese and English. We also taught our karate students how to use positive affirmations for self improvement: this along with learning to focus blocks and strikes with maximum power fed her ego but kept her humble. All of our advanced students learn to focus strikes at pressure points and were taught the traditional aspects of shitai kori (body hardening). As traditional Okinawa karate students develop in karate, outsiders are always impressed when they hear the loud 'snap' of a gi (karate uniform) that comes with all strikes and blocks - something mostly missing in many sport karate schools.

Soke Hausel with three of his favorite people at a martial arts clinic in
Gillette, Wyoming. 
Many of the Sport Martial Arts schools in Gilbert Arizona and elsewhere, focus on speed to gain an advantage of their opponents and focus and power of techniques are often lacking as acquiring points are the priority of sport Martial Arts. Another major difference between Sport and Traditional Martial Arts is that in Sport, the martial artist is rewarded for winning. In traditional martial arts, there is no concern about winning or losing, instead it is the improvement of the individual that is of utmost importance. Personally, I see parallels between traditional martial arts and Christianity.

Pencil sketch of Gichin Funakoshi by Soke
Hausel
Gichin Funakoshi (1868-1957), the father of modern karate summed it up best - "The purpose of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in perfection of its participants". Funakoshi Sensei, was a traditional martial artist of Shorin-Ryu Karate from Okinawa who has a legacy of his students developing Sport Karate against his wishes. He is also known for introducing Okinawa Karate to mainland Japan.


"Look Who's Coming to Dinner" color pencil sketch by Soke Hausel

"Peaceful Garden" color pencil sketch by Soke Hausel