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The E in Karate

The last letter in Karate (at least in the English spelling) is "E" and that letter can stand for escape.

It is fitting that the last last letter in the name of our art is also the last thing you will do in an engagement -- escape.  If you have to defend yourself, if it was not possible to avoid the attack, then at the earliest opportunity you should escape.  Defend and escape.  Not defend and make a point.  Not defend and defeat the attacker.  Not defend and beat the crap out of him.  Defend and escape -- get away.

If someone attacks me, he is committing a crime.  He is a criminal.  I am not willing to fight.  I would only protect myself and loved ones.  I am not starting anything and I will try my best to avoid a violent situation.  But if someone attacks me by surprise or will not allow me to withdraw, then there is no choice but to defend myself (or loved ones).

At such time, I will be looking for the earliest possible moment to escape -- to get away.  I am not getting away from a fight.  I am defending, not fighting.  I am getting away from a criminal.

When practicing bunkai, it is useful to practice various techniques -- from the initial avoidance or block, to the counter attack, to a take down or throw, to striking the attacker once he is on the ground, and even to grappling on the ground.  However, if someone attacks you do not have to use every technique you know.  At every phase of the defense, you should be looking for a way to escape.

And if are attacked and defend yourself, you may well have to explain your actions to the police.  Even if you were initially justified in defending yourself, did you go to far?  Did you continue to "fight" when you could have safely escaped?  Did you become the aggressor?

Don't get me wrong.  Karate is to be used as a last resort, and if it is a last resort your life or the life of a loved one is on the line.  If someone attacks me in such as situation, I will do whatever it takes -- but only whatever it takes and no more.  After that, it is up to the police to handle the criminal, not me.

As a Karate instructor, I am not looking for an excuse to use my techniques -- I am trying my best to avoid it and if I must defend myself, I will try to escape at the earliest safe opportunity.  KaratE.

Please also see:  Avoidance and Escape.


Charles C. Goodin