In the preamble of the article on Taïkyoku NidanI had suggested that Karate was a war art. However, following this article, I had a lot of reactions because some people think it's wrong.
To be clear (and even loud and clear ), I asked the following question on various forums: "Is karate an art of war? ".
Although the question is very simple, the multitude of diverse and varied answers that I received made me want to write this article. Because contrary to what some thought, the subject deserved to be deepened.
So I will try to summarize the answers on the forums to find out whether or not Karate is a war art.
Is Karate an art of war?
Karate is from To-From de Okinawa Island in the Ryukyu archipelago in southwest Japan. At that time, these islands were not part of Japan.
From 1429under the Chinese occupation, when a decree prohibited the possession of weapons on the island to avoid revolts, the peasants developed techniques based on Chinese martial techniques. defense with bare hand : it was the beginning of To-From.
The inhabitants added the martial use of agrarian tools, or of daily life (Bô (long stick), the Sai (metal tridents), the Tunkuwa (or Tonfa), the Nunchaku (plague with 2 wooden branches), etc.). It was the beginning of Kobudo.
We do not know if these techniques were used to make wars strictly speaking, but it seems very likely that the inhabitants used them against the invaders in arms, and that in any case, the first goal seems to be to defend against warriors.
Later in history, the Ryukyu kingdom was independent and rich thanks to the maritime traffic and especially to the trade with the Chinese Emperors. But this wealth was covetous: the Shimazu family who reigned over Satsuma province waged war in Okinawa in the fifteenth century. It seems once again that the To-De was used to fight the attackers. They had to surrender in 1609. But this Japanese invasion favored the orientation of the To-De towards a warlike practice.
But if we believe history as it is told, Karate, originally from Okinawa-Te, itself native of To-De has a vocation of warrior origin, even if it was not taught to armies to make war, but to civilians to defend against warriors.
So, if History does not lie to us we can think that
"Karate was originally a war art. "
As I just said, history does not always tell the truth, and some even think that all that I have just written, would only be a legend
(This is my vein! -D).
Indeed, it would seem rather that the To-De was not taught to the peasants, but to Peichin (name given to Okinawa samurai) assigned to the protection of boats against pirates.
In this case, Karate would no longer have a warrior origin, but rather from policewhich is still different.
The techniques would no longer serve to defend against warriors and their armor but would serve to police or security guards (here Peichin) to do rule the order.
Karate would then only a civil fighting art.
Moreover, when one reads Master Funakoshi's books on karate, he never speaks of them as an art of war, but as an art of physical activity, self-defense and spiritual discipline.
As Master Funakoshi is considered by many to be the father of modern Karate, one might conclude that
"Karate is not an art of war. "
Not being able to decide with certainty between these two theses, I will give you my feelings : in my opinion, karate, like most budo whether with or without weapons, is not just a physical activity, self-defense but has been well developed as a war (civil or military) to allow the inhabitants to defend themselves.
There is, then, a warlike aspect at the beginning, but it is not an art of war either, in the sense that it is not made for armies of soldiers, but rather for individuals.
There is no military strategy in our disciplines, but rather individual combat strategy.
Subsequently, Karate has been used and improved over the centuries, either to defend itself in time of war, or to defend against looters ...
Master Funakoshi does not present karate as a war art, but rather as a school of life :
Certainly, but let's not forget that his goal was to develop karate within schools. The martial side of karate did not go with the " schooling Karate.
Moreover, in 1922, during the first demonstration of Master Funakoshi in Japan, Karate was probably no longer used as a war art for a long time, but its origin goes back well before.
Karate is a Budo (武 道), the Kanji Bu means the war. However, this kanji is broken down into two parts meaning " spear "And" Stop And we could translate the Budo by "The way to stop the spear", so rather an art of defense.
Karate will remain in my opinion full of this ambiguity between the art of war and the art of defense.
In fact Karate is made of a lot of ambiguity and complementary dualities such as learning to give punches to not receive, to be strong and flexible, hard and soft, fast and patient ... In short, the Chinese philosophy of Yin / Yang that we had addressed in the article on Taïkyoku Sandan is ubiquitous in the karate.
I really think that karate, even if it was watered down a bit during his schooling by Master Funakoshi (and others ...) has warrior origins and that karateka, often have more than a sportsman soul. Besides, our code of honor is a little different from the sportsman's code.
Karate is a sport, an art of defense, a method of body development, a great school of life ... certainly, but it's not just that.
In conclusion, I will give the floor to my friend Marc, who have been since the origin of this blog and who said in his last comment a thing that summarizes all that I just wrote wonderfully:
"Karate is a war art in the service of peace"
Here, finally, once is not custom, I do not invite you to watch a video, but rather to revive debate and to give your own opinion in a comment below.
See you soon,
PS: I thank all the speakers on the following forums:
forum.doctissimo.fr, Infokarate Forum, KarateJapon.net, Forum site www.karate-traditionnel.fr.st, Kwoon.info, WebMartial, YamaMusha who thanks to their reasoned answers allowed me to write this article, and thanks to Marc for the conclusion.
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