Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

No Good Martial Arts...

From time to time, I am very fortunate to receive email from people who read this blog. Most study Karate, but some study other martial arts, such as Aikido, Judo, Kendo, or other arts. I really appreciate the kind words from people from other martial arts.

As for the title of this post, I believe that there are no good martial arts, only good martial artists. Karate is a martial art but it is not good or bad by itself. Karate only exists when it is practiced by someone. Karate is judged -- for good or bad -- by the people who practice it and who have practiced it.

Can you show me Karate in the abstract? A photograph of a Karate technique is not Karate and a book about Karate is not Karate. The same goes for Aikido. You can only see Aikido by observing the lives of Aikido students.

Two people can learn a martial art identically. One might use it for peace, understanding and health, the other for violence, egotism, and destruction. The art is the same but the expressions of it differ greatly.

I really enjoy Karate training. I like the fact that I do not need any equipment at all and that both sides of my body are worked out more or less equally. I like the history and traditions of the art, particularly in the early days in Okinawa. But I also like and admire other arts and have practiced some. I think that I could have become equally skilled in other arts if I had practiced them for as long and with as much effort as I have put into Karate. Anyone can become skillful in any art, with hard work.

But I never really had the time to be able to train in multiple martial arts at the same time. Ultimately, I could only muster the time to be able to practice one art in a dedicated manner, and decided on Karate. That does not mean that I like or respect any other arts any less.

And as I wrote above, it is the artist that makes the art.

When I meet a martial artist with a good character, it makes me think highly of that martial art and the student's teachers. The opposite is also true.

For good or bad, we represent the martial arts we practice. Aikido is not only judged by the life of Ueshiba Sensei, but by the lives and actions of each student who practices Aikido. Kano Sensei represents Judo, as does each Judo student. Karate does not have one founding teacher -- it has several major teachers -- but each Karate student forms the impression of the art of Karate for other people.

There are no good martial arts, only good martial artists. Each of us has to try our best to positively represent and reflect upon our chosen martial arts.


Charles C. Goodin