Karate Thoughts Blog

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Blind Men and the Elephant

Do you know the story of the three blind men who felt an elephant? Since each felt different parts, they thought they were feeling different animals. This shows that there can be many aspects to a single thing.

Karate is like feeling an elephant, a lion, an eagle, a turtle, a whale... basically a whole menagerie. There are so many aspects of Karate and no two students will have the same impression. They could easily think that they are studying two different things. There is one Karate but many interpretations... and each of them is valid.

I am biased because I learned Karate here in Hawaii, first from Filipino instructors of Kenpo Karate and then from an Okinawan instructor of Shorin-Ryu. I then learned also Shorin-Ryu from an Okinawan instructor of Shorin-Ryu in Okinawa. None of the schools/dojo I attended were commercial. None of my instructors did Karate for a living. None of the schools/dojo I attended participated in tournaments. My dojo has always been very family oriented. Okinawan culture, and Karate's place in that culture, became and remains an important focus to me.

If you take my background and my focus on Karate... that is like one of the blind man's impressions. It is just one impression. It is my impression. It is just one impression among thousands (even more).

The only difference is that I head a museum and write this blog and articles. My voice gets to be heard more than most, and I choose to express my opinions.

But my view is just one and I respect other views (although I might not want to pursue them). All the different views make up Karate.

I am tending to become a minimalist in Karate. I do think more about stripping away the unnecessary to reveal the essential -- in terms of technique, body dynamics, applications, and thoughts generally. I do not practice Zen or anything like that. I have just reached the point in my training where less is much more.

Which explains, to some extent, my post Take Away...


Charles C. Goodin