Sunday 17 October 2010

Karate is like language

The elements which make up karate can be compared to the main components of language. Consider phonology (sounds), morphology (words), syntax (sentences), semantics (the study of words and their meaning) and pragmatics (use).

Phonology: Phonology is like the state of the body, control of breath and emotional control, posture and visual focus, all of which need to be fully applied if even the most fundamental technique is to be maximised.

Morphology & syntax: The actual kihon-waza are like words, and renzokuwaza are like sentences. Taking this further, and if you string enough sentences together, you create paragraphs, and eventually essays and books. Needless to say, these are comparable to kata.

Semantics (or the study of words and their meaning) runs parallel with our study of karate techniques and their respective meanings. We must therefore work to explore karate, searching for deeper understanding. Whilst being academic, this study, like semantics, is not only cognitive play, but rather "to do things better".

And finally pragmatics which is how we use kihon and kata, how to apply it, which is expressed in kumite and goshin-jutsu (the methods of self-defence).

Analysing karate in this way and we can see why we have "The Three K's" - Kihon, Kata & Kumite. Over the years I've heard about some people absurdly claiming to be kumite or kata specialists. This is fine, if people play karate as a sport, but is totally inadequate for those wishing to follow karate, as effective budo (martial arts). In many ways karate is now dead, and this is because most people either practice it watered-down, or simply the `parts they need' to win tournaments.

© André Bertel. New Zealand, 2010.

No comments: