Compare and Contrast Essay
Is Traditional Karate or the Eclectic martial arts for you? Although Traditional Karate and the Eclectic martial arts styles are, both a martial curriculum based, there are a few similarities and the many differences of the two.
When using the term “eclectic martial arts” (Saavedra). I am referring to but not limited to Brazilian Jujitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Ninjas, and other styles or teaching philosophies not based on the Traditional Karate Philosophy.
Traditional Karate Dojo setting and Eclectic Martial Arts training areas do have a few similarities. For instance, both have an open area for working out, they both may have training aids such as protective equipment for the participants and they both may also have a variety of punching bags and other striking pads available. In addition to, they may even have a variety of hand weapons for training, too. Furthermore, they both teach offensive and defensive hand to hand combat techniques as part of their curriculum. That is about the total sum of any comparison of the two.
However, Traditional Karate is a much formalized system in comparison to the eclectic style. In traditional karate even in the smallest or largest of setting, the Dojo (school) is considered to be a revered and traditional place of learning and respect. Upon the students entering the dojo, they will remove their shoes at the door and bow the Shomen. The Shomen is the symbol of the Karate style along with other pictures of the masters, and other symbols of respect and tradition displayed on the main wall of the dojo. The Shomen also represents the traditions and ideals of the Traditional Martial Artist. In traditional karate for instance, “All Deshi (students) wait patiently and quietly for the Sensei to arrive and teach. When he or she arrives the highest ranking Deshi call the rest of the students to attention, then they all bow formally to the Sensei”(Urban,23). All Deshi then line up from left to right according to rank, the highest ranking Blackbelts on the far left side. The Deshi are seated in a formal posture called Sieza and the highest ranking student will formally bow in the class to the Sensei. Next the Sensei will turn and face the Shomen and announce to all to bow to the Shomen while they all repeat the phrase, Onagaeshi Masu, which roughly translates to “Please Teach Us” in English. The class then has a period of meditation; according to Hanshi Saavedra: “It will clear the mind of the day’s issues and to be prepared to train hard and learn” (Saavedra). All of the students will then recite the Dojo Kun (virtues) aloud to solidify and nurture the value and the ideals that Traditional Karate represents. In the Dojo, the students wear a formal training uniform called a Gi, which is all white in color made primarily of cotton consisting of pants and a kimono style jacket with a ranking belt secured around the waist called an, Obi. The students are expected to act respectfully, and be motivated, attentive, and train diligently throughout the entire class. All this and more sets the art of Traditional Karate apart from the Eclectic styles of martial arts. In addition, the curriculum and the ranking structure of Traditional Karate allow the student to travel to a Dojo of the same style anywhere in the world and that student will be ranked and understand the structure plus be able to participate in the class fully.
On a physical fitness level, there are a few similarities between Traditional Karate and the Eclectic martial arts. They both help they practitioner develop better physical condition through a combination of aerobic and repetitive drills, and of course the benefits include being in better cardiovascular health and weight loss.
In contrast, it has been said that “Karate is for everyone, but not everyone is for Karate” (Saavedra) which means that Traditional Karate is for the young and the old. The Eclectic systems of instruction are based upon the concept of creating tough fighters which is primarily for male students between the ages of 16 to 35 years old. In Traditional Karate the Class begins with a systemized stretching curriculum that has its roots in Indian Yoga and the Shaolin monks of China. The stretching starts with small increments and increases with each student’s unique anatomy. The complex curriculum allows the Sensei to develop a unique set of techniques for the different age groups and each person’s unique physical limitations. Many handicapped individuals have advanced to the level of black belt. Traditional Karate is taught to students from the ages of 5 years old to 70 years old, men, women and children alike. In the style of Goju Ryu there is a traditional breathing exercise developed around two of its Kata’s that can help asthma patients and students with breathing issues become healthier and stronger. As per Master Urbans observations “It is not surprising that Karate students are rarely ill, for they know that it is necessary to use the body and the mind every day in order to function at their best” (Urban, 20).
Likewise, on the mental level of development for both Traditional Karate and the Eclectic martial arts, there are some good similarities. Both help to increase the student’s self-confidence and awareness. In addition, both have a positive effect on the students’ self-control.
On the other hand, Traditional Karate incorporates meditation practice at the beginning and end of every class. This meditation practice according to Hanshi Saavedra is about the Tibetan concept of Mukuso “Every training session begins and ends with meditation. Mukuso is the direct look into our own minds in order to see our true natures. By being able to see ourselves, we are better able to see others, and thus become aware and unafraid of both” (Saavedra). In contrast, traditional karate implements the ancient and very traditional practicing of the Kata’s. The Eclectic martial arts styles have almost completely eliminated them from their curriculums. Kata has been defined as meditation in motion, the Kata’s start with the most simplest of blocks then strikes. Like a pyramid they build upon each other in complexity, skills and knowledge. They require the student to look deep within themselves for tenacity, fortitude, unwavering patience, and intense concentration. One of Hanshi Saavedra observations is “That both external and internal disturbances fade away until they are no more disturbing than the distant sound of rolling thunder. Slowly but surely an immunity to life’s trivia and detachment from illusion becomes easier and quicker. Here again, Buddhist thought, as applied to kata, as "Moving Zen" is very appropriate” (Saavedra).
Furthermore, on a societal level there are only differences between the two styles. The Eclectic martial arts styles are concerned with only teaching people to fight, regardless of the person’s intentions, morality or values. In Traditional Karate the concepts of morality, honor, integrity and kindness are highly valued. Many Traditional Karate Styles have what is called a “Dojo Kun” or martial virtues like this one which is the Dojo Kun for the World Sansei-
1. We shall always practice and study. 2. We shall always be humble and kind. 3. We shall always be courteous. 4. We shall be quick to seize opportunity. 5. We shall always practice patience. 6. We shall always believe that nothing is impossible. 7. We shall discard the bad. 8. We shall keep the good. 9. We shall always be loyal to: Ourselves, Karate, Family, Community, and Country.
Love is our law.
Truth is our worship.
Form is our manifestation.
Peace is our shelter.
Nature is our companion.
Order is our attitude.
Beauty and perfection is our life.
The Dojo Kun is the guideline for the ideals and of the Traditional Karate practitioner. The Practice of Kata as according to Master Richard Kim is the key to addressing the morality of teaching a fighting art. “The answer is found in kata, the heart of karate. Kata is meant to train the mind and is not intended solely for conceptual and intellectual defense. Indeed to bring it in contact with its real self is its true purpose” (Master Richard Kim, 105). The duty of a Sensei besides teaching their students to defend themselves and to protect others is to be a life skills teacher, to help their students be the new generation of leaders with a high integrity. By Sensei Gallegos definition “ The career Sensei(teacher), it is never enough to teach and individual the foundation of the martial art, but rather a living blueprint for all individuals to maximize their full potential”(Sensei Gallego,13).
In other words, even though Traditional Karate versus the Eclectic martial arts styles do have a small number of similarities on the curriculum, physical, and mental levels, it is clear in the realm of being a positive benefit to our society that the Eclectic martial arts styles have none. According to Hanshi Saavedra, “I can teach anyone to fight. Heck, I can even teach a monkey how to fight” (Saavedra). There is truly a very substantial plus an imperative obligation and responsibility in being a teacher of the martial arts. The Traditional Karate Sensei cares very much about society and the impression he or she makes upon their students characters.
Funikoshi, Gichin. Karate-Do: My Way of Life. Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International Ltd, 1975. Print.
Kim, Richard. The Weaponless Warrior: An Informal History of Okinawan Karate. Santa Clara, California: Ohara Publications Inc, 1974. Print.
Saavedra, Manny. Personal interview. 22 October 2011.
Saavedra, Manny. Sansei Page. N.p., 13 October 2011. Web. 13 October 2011.
Saavedra, Manny, ed. World Sansei Koryu Goju-Ryu Karate-Do Organization. N.p., 2011. Web.13 Oct. 2011..
Urban, Peter. The Karate Dojo: Traditions and Tales of a Martial Art. Tokyo, Japan:
Charles E. Tuttle Publishing Co. Inc., 1967. Print.