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Tanks -- And Karate

I watched a television program in which they rated the top ten tanks of all time. You might wonder how this relates to Karate. (Of course, I think just about everything relates to Karate in some way.)

To rate the various tanks, they compared them based on different strengths and weaknesses. Here are some (as I recall).

Firepower: Naturally, a tank that can shoot farther and more powerfully has a huge advantage. The same applies in Karate. Someone who can hit harder has a big advantage over someone with a weak punch.

Armor: A tank that can take a hit is better than one that is easily destroyed. Again this is obvious, as is the parallel to Karate. The armor used on modern tanks is not simply thick, hard metal. The armor tends to be sloped (to deflect incoming rounds) and sometimes explosive (to prevent rounds from having time to pierce the armor). The sloped armor reminds me of how we "slip" punches, I'm sorry, but I don't have an analogy to the explosive armor.

Speed: The best tanks tend to be the fastest and most maneuverable. This makes sense and applies in Karate too.

Construction and Maintenance: How hard is it to make the tank, how much does it cost, and what are the difficulties and costs of maintenance? I had a computer. It had great features but kept breaking down. I ended up hating it! A tank may be great, but if it costs too much, no one could afford it. The same goes for maintenance. As I recall, the German's Panther tanks were very good but hard to maintain, and the Tiger tanks were outstanding but so expensive that relatively few were made (compared to other types).

In Karate, how long does it take and how much work is involved in attaining proficiency? If it takes a lifetime to become proficient at self-defense, that means that for most of one's life, one is not yet proficient. If the objective is self-defense, you must ask how well and quickly your training accomplishes this. Of course, self-defense is not the only goal in Karate.

I am sure that I have grossly oversimplified the factors, and there may have been others. But here is the point I want to make -- the factors are not independent.

In order to have great firepower, a tank may have a really big and heavy gun. But this slows it down. To accommodate the added weight, the tank will need a bigger engine. This is heavier too. A tank with a huge gun might be so slow that it would be an easy target.

The same goes for armor. Too much armor will slow the tank down. A bigger engine will be needed, more gas, etc. To accommodate more armor, other things might be sacrificed -- the big gun for example.

A bigger gun or more armor?

And both affect speed. You might have a really fast tank if you strip the armor and give it a small gun.

A super high tech tank might seem like a good idea, but is it rugged enough to handle battlefield conditions? Will it break down often and will be cost of repair be too great? Is it so complicated that soldiers will require a Ph.D to run it?

Some people in Karate work on a devastating punch (firepower). Others might seek to toughen then body so that they can take any hit or kick (armor). Still others might work on agility and quickness (speed). And how long does it take for all this to become effective, and at what cost?

The best tank rates high on all factors (and tends to be very expensive). Firepower alone is not too hard to accomplish, as are armor and speed. But to achieve all three takes a lot.

So does Karate. The best Karate student can punch hard, take a hit, and move quickly. He is not one dimensional. One strength is not sacrificed for another.

To all my friends in the military, please forgive my inaccurate descriptions of tanks. I have never served in the military (my father and my wife's father did), and I have the greatest respect for our men and women in the armed services. My point about tanks is that we can learn something from them and apply the same (or similar) principles to our Karate training.

Also, I respect that what also makes a tank great are the men and women who man, command and service them.


Charles C. Goodin