Monday 17 July 2023

It's the individual!

The four major styles of karate are:


Shotokan Ryu

Goju Ryu

Shito Ryu

Wado Ryu

Masters of 'the BIG FOUR': Miyagi Sensei, Mabuni Sensei, Funakoshi Sensei and Otsuka Sensei.

However, other major styles include Kyokushinkai, Uechi Ryu, Shorin Ryu, Ryuei Ryu, and others. Indeed, there are also many derivative styles such as Shukokai, Seido, and so forth. In regards, to Shotokan, the Shotokai can literally be classed as a ‘different style’ due to the extreme variations and use of body mechanics, which it employs.


I do not believe that any style is superior to the rest. It always comes down to the individual practitioner, not the style or organization.


That being said, globally Shotokan is by far the most practiced style in the world.


Naturally, this has both positive and negative connotations.


On a positive front it means that Shotokan, due to having the most practitioners, means that a significant pool of these practitioners reach a high level of skill as competitors and instructors.


On a negative front, also due to being so widely practiced, there are also a significant number of low level practitioners, instructors and clubs as well.


In either case, it’s obviously a numbers game.


Some like to paint Shotokan in a negative light through such instructors and groups; nonetheless, I believe it is more important to analyze the people at the top rather than the McDojo’s.


Others and individual groups who teach Okinawan karate and Full Contact Karate, sometimes also claim Shotokan’s inferiority. Claims are that Shotokan is inferior to the karate of Okinawa, which is ‘they claim is the real thing’. And, because Shotokan is not generally full contact, it doesn’t train one for actual self-defense.


Both of these claims are absolutely incorrect, "...just as us Shotokan karateka should not say Shotokan is superior to anything else." That is equally as incorrect. In sum, any of this type of banter is false. Of course, in the case of self-defense, there is truth to this if one doesn’t train for it, and many don’t or do not do so effectively.


Irrespective of the style, one must practice and train to make it effective for themselves: especially in regards to self-defense, but also as an art form. Too many people hide behind style, organizational acronyms, and other irrelevant points. Even behind instructors!


To be excellent involves self-training, seeking the best instruction possible, and seriously aiming to improve. Irrespective of the karate style, if one does these things, they will develop high level skills and the ability to effectively apply them—again, irrespective of style and/or organization. I always say, "Shotokan is the best style for me".


I want to offer 'a deep bow to all of the authentic style styles of karate' and all of the organizations, clubs and instructors who teach their respective arts as budo/bujutsu.


 © Andre Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2023).

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