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Right and Wrong

It is very important to keep in mind that what might be considered "right" in one style of Karate may well be considered "wrong" in another style. One style, for example, may require its students to keep their muscles tense and to move in a linear manner. Another style may require just the opposite -- that students relax (until the moment of contact) and that they move in a more circular fashion.

For this reason, it is very difficult to comment on another style of Karate. However, this usually does not stop people.

I always try to remember that others could be very critical of the way that I move. I'm sure that if I could go back in time 20 years and demonstrate a kata for myself, my 1987 alter ego would think that my current self was terrible! And of course, looking back at myself, I see nothing but errors.

I admire Sensei Morio Higaonna very much. He is my senior in every way. However, we do not move alike. His approach and my approach are pretty different. This does not diminish my admiration of him or his method of Goju-Ryu.

I also try to keep in mind that when I observe someone, particularly my seniors, they might be moving in a way that I do not yet understand. I may think that their movement is strange, unusual, or "wrong" because I simply cannot see (understand) what they are doing.

In our Kishaba Juku form of Karate, we develop the use of the koshi. For beginners, we make this motion large (so that they can see and copy it). However, at an advanced stage, the motion of the koshi is very small or even invisible (the koshi motion is all internal). A student who has studied koshi for a year or two might look at a koshi expert and incorrectly conclude that he is not using his koshi. Actually, the novice simply cannot see and appreciate the refined movement.

Right and wrong are relative to style and to stage of learning.

And we should not forget that even something that looks wrong, ugly or crude is right if it works. We should always evaluate movements based on their function... right?


Charles C. Goodin