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"Complete" Karate

I review a lot of Karate books. Each book has to have a title and some authors are quite creative.

Lately, I have been thinking about Karate books with the word "Complete" in the title. Now I am not speaking here about any particular book. My comments would apply the same to any book with the title "Complete" in the title, whether it covers Karate, Judo, Aikido, Kendo, or any other martial art.

Here is my question. How can any book hope to cover any martial art completely? No matter how many pages a book has, there is always so much more to cover.

Think about everything you know about the style of Karate you practice. Think about all your terminology, basics, stances, techniques, combinations, kata, drills, kumite... and then add all the history, culture, traditions... Now imagine putting all that down in writing, adding some photos, and then publishing this in a book.

Would that book be "Complete?" Perhaps it would be complete with respect to what you know, but you only know a piece of "Karate." You only know what you know. I'm pretty sure that even noted experts such as Sensei Morio Higaonna would only claim to know a piece of "Karate", not the whole thing.

So at best, a book would be complete only with respect to the knowledge of the author. There are many other styles and schools of Karate and as many interpretations as there are instructors and students.

In addition, has the author stopped learning? If his knowledge is complete, that means there is nothing more to learn. Perhaps one should say "Complete (to this date)".

The fact is that terms such as "Complete," "Advanced," "Master," "Expert," "Secret," and the like help to sell books.

If you were standing at a bookstore, would you want to buy a book with a title such as "My Incomplete Glimpse Into A Small Part Of Karate (As I Understand It So Far)"?

I also saw another book title that caught my eye, "Karate For Dummies." Oh come on!


Charles C. Goodin