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Old September 21, 2000, 04:33 PM   #1
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Do you consider all Karate to be useless for selfdefense? ...fubsy...
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Old September 21, 2000, 06:57 PM   #2
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I know this isn't addressed to me, but I'll chime in anyhow...

fubsy, with all due respect, this sounds like a baited question.

Obviously, there are situations in which Karate can be very effective. To me honest with you, however, Karate seems (INITIALLY) to excel much more on a self-discipline level than it does on a self-defense level. This is obviously not intended to make Karate seem "useless," it just means that there are other styles in which self defense techniques are taught in a way that they are more easily absorbed (IMO).

I'll give you an example: In arts like Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling and Braz. JJ, many hours of class are spent sparring with an unresisting opponent. From what I know of Karate, there is a strong emphasis on forms - katas. While this looks impressive, it does not seem very effective in the fluidity of combat. I have seen many Karateka, however, that are on par with some of the best fighters in terms of their striking and distance perception.

Now, having said this, I firmly believe that with years of training coupled with insight and an open mind, EVERY martial art is great! Because of this, I would tend to say that it is the person, not the art, that is in question.

Have you looked into (and tried) hybrid styles? Have you tried sparring with Muay Thai guys? Have you rolled with BJJers? I have, and it was eye opening to say the least. I have also tried Karate, it was my first martial art and I received a yellow belt just because I could complete two types of kata. Things may have changed in Karate since the 20 or so years that I took it, but I think I know enough to decide that it is not the martial art for me.

In the end, if you limit yourself to a traditional, non-eclectic style, you are in fact limiting yourself.

[This message has been edited by krept (edited September 21, 2000).]
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Old September 21, 2000, 07:49 PM   #3
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Hi Fubsy and Krept, (and Skorzeny when you sign on),
I know you didn't ask me either, but FWIW, some thirty odd years ago I was in traditional Shotokan and Okinawa-te,later in Goju, and various styles of Kempo. Most of it was during the period that there was only white,brown, and later black belts. At some time in the 60's I tried Tang Soo Do and Hapkido (Korean style). In that time, katas (forms) were the most important part of the the beginning. They were considered important because it taught you proper breathing,balance, rhythm,and spirit because you fought imaginary attackers...using traditional attacks of the past. Most of the sparring was one step, then karate randori came along, we sparred scoring one point where you always stopped if you scored a point. It was always fun and games because you were supposed to be poised and in control so you pulled your punch (no contact) fact, you were proud that you could pull your punch just before contact.
This was the "art" that you ween't supposed to fight because you were karateka. You were supposed to be aloof, you were taught to use "deadly weapons" so you restrained yourself.
Good for self-defense? I guess if you were good in your dojo and the attacker kind of attacked you in the practice way or the attacker didn't know too much about street usually won by the "mystique" or the reputation. My experiences and this is with knowing a lot of teachers who had put in a lot of years...real street fighting with someone that really wanted to clean your clock?
Many was the time that I saw hard core karateka...3rd and 4th degree black or higher go down to a boxer in the Navy or a good all around street fighter.
I can tell you of many,many street fights that I know where karateka went to the hospital with not a mark or at best light bruising from the karate "deadly" hits.
I also know of fights won by a kii-yaii (Yell) or a punch or kick or combination done properly.
I won't say that if properly taught...karate could work for real, but in the past, the instructors only would say that you didn't practice enough and you didn't work hard enough.

Lucky for me, I had learned hard core jiujitsu before I started to learn karate...had to resort ot that in fights. The fights that I won using karate...I kept it simple and totally breaking boards. (But that's stories for some other time.)

As an aside, I know an instructor who learned Wing Chun Gung-Fu from Master Yip Man about the same time as Bruce Lee...he eventually went to Japan to attend college there and he said that the way that they taught the stuff in Japan was different then the way the stuff being taught here in the U.S. was being taught. He said as good as he is in Wing Chun, he barely could hold his own against the university karateka.
He said over there, they were very fast and their focus of power was awesome.
So the short answer is it depends...
The problem that I see, is if you spent decades in it however many hours a day, you too could use the art in some self-defense.
The problem is in those days we thought that either it was the school, the style, the teacher, or us who weren't good enough to use the stuff we learned in real self-defense.
When Bruce Lee tried to put things together for him, he broke the barriers in the minds of many of us. We learned from him...if you picked a few good techniques and practiced them properly to learn...proper distance, rhythm, proper use of power, then often that is enough.
Sorry, that this post is long, but let me give you guys an example...then I'll stop.
Take an ordinary piece of 8 1/2" by 11" piece of writing paper. Hold the paper in your weak hand extending your arm full length in front of you, now snap punch it until you can put a neat hole about the size of a half a dollar through the paper with one punch.
Once you can make that hole than bring your hand to within one inch from touching the paper, then do the one snapping punch and make that same type of hole.
After you could do that you got one heck of a penetrating punch that can be launched from one inch away from your opponent's body. Bruce dropped a whole bunch of guys (physically knocked them to the deck)and knocked out a whole bunch of black belts (me included) while we were trying to fight him one at a time.
I taught a bunch of 40 year old business professionals that punch. Within one to 3 months several got to use that punch and a trapping combination in self-defense...worked. In one case, it was against two attackers...Each case, the attackers had extensive jail time and street experience.
A little tweak, a little different focus...and presto chango...
Hope what you're looking for...good luck.
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Old September 21, 2000, 07:55 PM   #4
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thanks for the reply and no I wasnt baiting skorzeny. I get the impression from his reply's that he thinks karate as a fighting form is useless.
You take basically the same martial studies as skorzeny right?
I read in your post that primarily early on that karate simply was forms....all I can go on is my limited experience and after a gruelling excercise regimen we would free spar practically every class----Im limited in my scope for a couple of reasons, and thats partly why I asked the question. At the time I was going through dojo training the classes were morning classes and it would be two blackbelts and two or three students max, normally two students. So Im limited in my exposure. I guess Im basically just a walking talking punching
The school I trained at had a highly motivated blackbelt contingent, many had 20+ years experience, and they would take seminars and bring that back and several became ranked in different arts and brought that to us well. Some of the older instructers had blackbelt rank in different styles before coming to our school.
How technical do you have to be to throw an effective knee?, or an effective elbow?, or kick with the shin....
Dont misunderstand, Im not attacking anything you believe in, muythai, shoto, bjj, I think its all very very good. While it is to the fore att, its most likely with good reason and not a flavor of the month......
that being said my question stands Is karate useless as a form of selfdefense.
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Old September 21, 2000, 08:17 PM   #5
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Good points. I also think that realistic training is necessary. Perhaps that is a large portion of the perception that karate is useless, the point fighting stuff, etc.
It could be argued that the popularity of Karate combined with the media movies and shows probably helped foster the decline of the martial ability found with in the systems. I would believe there are many causes for the perceived or real decline as well. ......fubsy.....
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Old September 21, 2000, 09:56 PM   #6
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my $.02

karateka in japan are scary. they don't go for point-fighting; they'll do the ippon-style duel but anything else is anathema. the real hardcore ones, they're such believers in *ichigeki hissatsu* (one strike one kill) that i think it's what sets the japanese karateka apart from the rest. they have a vocabulary to support the concepts behind *real* karate, so to speak, and this single-mindedness about it.

as an aikido guy i will say that karate is evolving in japan ... experimental disciplines like taido, for instance. but at the root you have koppojutsu and jujutsu, and NO ONE is going to tell me that they don't work as a comprehensive system on par with shooto or BJJ.

one thing to remember also is that in japanese high schools karate and judo are simultaneously taught (with kendo in the sidelines) so a lot of brawls occur between the two styles LOL ... seen em all, literally. i think you might have too, Skorzeny

karate isn't useless, but nothing beats good cross-training.

was that $.03?
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Old September 22, 2000, 01:41 AM   #7
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Greetings from Anchorage, I spent a good many years in Colo. Spgs. Colo. where the Olympic Training Center jocks in Karate and Judo spar in the local bars. I spent a good many evenings watching guys from L.A.s Benny the Jets dojo visiting said Judo players and all got their butt whipped by the Judo guys. Every dojo of every style has one or two above average fighters, the fun is in humiliating their sensai. U.S.J.I. in C.S.C. has an incredible combination of different styles to compare on any Friday mat all styles welcome..henry
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Old September 22, 2000, 02:33 AM   #8
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Well, well...

In my experience, traditional Wing Chun is about as useful for street fighting as "Karate." Wing Chun people spend hours and hours learning trapping that turns out to be mainly non-functional when fighting non-Wing Chun people (this isn't just my observation, it is the observation shared by Bruce Lee, Inosanto, Vunak, etc.etc.). Functional trapping is used for striking (clearing barriers to strikes) rather than trapping per se.

I trained in Shotokan Karate in Japan for some time. The "hard core" Karateka usually train in Judo as well. Kimura (who defeated Helio Gracie) was perhaps one of the greatest Judo blackbelts who ever lived; he was a blackbelt in Kyokushinkai as well.

Karate (whether Shotokan, Kyokushinkai, Okinawan, whatever) is NOT useless per se. Nothing is useless. The question is, is it time/effort efficient for self-defense, compared to other systems out there? The answer, from my experience, is no.

Boxing, Muay Thai and Savate Boxe Francaise all teach effective striking with greater time/effort efficiency, primarily because effectivess in fighting/sparring is the main emphasis in these systems.

In most styles of Karate, the emphasis is on the preservation of traditional techniques. Sparring is often unrealistic. On top of that, Karate really deals with two ranges of unarmed combat (kicking and punching). It usually does not deal with two others (trapping and grappling ranges). Nor does it deal effectively with common "street" weapons like knives and sticks (which are best dealt, IMHO, by Filippino systems).

BTW, Benny "the Jet" Urquidez is an illegitimate son of Gene "Judo" Lebell who was one of the greatest Judoka ever produced by this country. Japanese and traditional American Judoka detested Gene, because of his unorthodox Judo (he trained in catch wrestling) skills. During his youth, Gene challenged one of the highest ranked boxers of his day and knocked him out (actually choked him into unconsciousness). I believe a tape of this exists and can be purchased somewhere...

Now, leave me alone!


For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. Sun Tzu

[This message has been edited by Skorzeny (edited September 22, 2000).]
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Old September 22, 2000, 09:54 AM   #9
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Ah, c'mon, Skorzeny! You did an excellent job of clarifying comments from other posts you've made. You and the rest of the guys who've posted here have taught me a lot as to the concepts behind the various varieties of martial arts. Thanks.

I've never had any martial arts training--but my last fight was in 1951. Now, with arthritis and the constant threat of a pinched nerve in my back, I'm pretty judicious about life in general. My planned technique is to make lots of whiny noises and blubber a lot while I wait for the chance for a side kick to the knee--followed by as many shots from my hideout gun as needed...I figure if somebody grabs me, I'm gonna try to write inside his nose or eye with a ballpoint pen.

Again, to all, thanks for many interesting discussions.

Regards, Art

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Old September 22, 2000, 12:33 PM   #10
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I have much less experience in martial arts than the folks here, so take what I say with a grain of salt. A long time ago, in a land far away, I studied ****o-ryu karate. I didn't study it very long -- only got to yellow belt.

Is karate useless? No, I don't think so. But I do think it has major weaknesses. It seems that karate techniques are focussed on dealing with opponents who are kept at a distance. The problem is, what do you do if your opponent gets inside your distance or worse, knocks you down? Karate doesn't seem to have any techniques for dealing with this. There's no grappling, no striking techniques for someone who is right next to you.

I've been in very few fights, but it seems that they often start and end with grappling. So something like jujitsu seems to me as though it might be much more useful in the real world.

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Old September 22, 2000, 02:08 PM   #11
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skorzeny and everyone else thanks for the replies.......I knew it could be done per your request skorzeny, your alone.....fubsy.
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