Friday 9 July 2021

The false claim of SUPERIOR STYLE

 I recently heard someone claim that SHOTOKAN is inferior to the karate of Okinawa. Well, while I deeply respect all other styles (and other fighting arts for that matter), claiming SHOTOKAN is WRONG or INFERIOR to any other system is not only incorrect, it’s both ridiculously stupid and utterly arrogant.

Nakayama Sensei, Shoji Sensei, Abe Sensei et al., performing Kanku Dai Kata.

I’ll prove this from now by quoting myself (from an article I published in 1994 for the ‘New Zealand Martial Arts Magazine’).


“Regardless of style, the objective of karate techniques is to deliver maximum power with different weapons of the body via thrusts, strikes and leg techniques; furthermore, maximize chokes, joint dislocation/breaking techniques, sweeps, throws and takedowns”.


Based on this CORRECT UNDERSTANDING: “…Accordingly, superior styles do not exist. Rather, optimally achieving these physical goals—in the technical sense—is what establishes superiority”.


To reiterate, it is: (1) The individual’s physical capacity/ability in regards to aforementioned points; (2) The quality of mentor(s) that the individual accesses; and (3) The quality of training partners that they have.


From my nearly 40 years experience  (much of which has been full time, with more of a quarter of that time training daily here in Japan) ‘the best karateka I know’ come from Shotokan, Goju Ryu, Wado Ryu, Shito Ryu, Seido, Kyokushinkai, Shukokai, Uechi Ryu, Ryuei Ryu, Wado Ryu etcetera… I think I’ve made my point. These awesome karateka are INDIVIDUALS from all of the authentic styles. Not one style is THE BEST.


In sum, all true karate styles can lead to the highest peak of the mountain with the high-quality training, the best mentor(s), and the optimum environment. To provide a concrete example, all three of these reasons are what led me here to Japan, initially, in 1993.


Anyone who thinks that Shotokan, or any other AUTHENTIC KARATE STYLE is ‘wrong’ or ‘inferior’ (to another system) is not only utterly stupid, but totally arrogant; moreover, establishes that they do not understand what real karate is.


And, if they are not stupid, it obviously means that they have a hidden agenda in making such unequivocally false claims.


I am very proud to be a karateka and practitioner of Shotokan. Furthermore, I will not tolerate anyone dissing Shotokan, nor any other authentic karate style. In addition to being technically incorrect, it is deception; therefore, not in the spirit of Karate-Do.


André Bertel

(7th Dan)




© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2021).

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