Posted on 1 Comment

Missing Links of Karate: Why We Need Traditional Martial Arts

The missing links of Karate have become a research field for a community of innovative and open minded Karateka. We link Karate back to its roots in traditional martial arts from Asia. By doing so we focus on improving Karate and bring back what the art has lost through the development of modern Shotokan and Sports Karate. Therefore, missing links challenges conventional Karate wisdom and changes perceptions. By Heero Miketta

Questioning Shotokan

Practicing Japanese Karate will always bring up the question: “Which style?” – at least from those in the know. Three decades ago an answer by Hirokazu Kanazawa made the rounds in my Shotokan circles. “Martial arts,” the old master mumbled in reply, and was not willing to discuss this any further.

It impressed me at the time, because back then I had a moment of confusion myself. I had joined the instructor team of the police in the then German capital Bonn. It was a fortunate event to be welcomed in this rather elitist circle of good fighters with all kinds of martial arts backgrounds. I was a complete rookie, while all of them had tested their knowledge in more or less realistic scenarios.

My Shotokan fell short. What I had learned was too static, too focused on the long distance, and very much tuned into the rules of competition.

Shotokan Did not Meet the Reality of Fighting nor Philosophical Depth of Asia

Not an unusual story – I have met plenty of others with similar experiences, not only from Shotokan Karate. If you listen to Geoff Thompson, British author and martial artist, he describes the same learning journey. Self defense, realistic conflict, and violence prevention always question what we have learned in the dojo.

This was not the first time I second-guessed my Karate. When I started my training in Shotokan, coming from Judo and Tai Chi, I became disappointed at first. I found a sports system featuring tournament rules instead of the deep secrets I had expected. It was all sweat, mostly on my own, walking up and down a gym, hitting thin air. No Far East philosophy, nothing of the cool mystic background I imagined.

The Two Missing Links

Two missing links gave our research community its name: The actual combat content, and the deep knowledge, the Asian ways of thinking that challenge the Western mind.

The Bleeding Edge of Modern Society

This brings us straight to the core of martial arts: The connection of body and mind. What sounds like an advertising soundbite to the ears of experienced Karateka is a bleeding edge of modern society. In our book Missing Links of Martial Arts, we chose the term “debodification” to describe what is happening to humans today: An increasingly sedentary lifestyle dominated by screentime and virtual experiences. Fitness and wellness have the character of mere duties that have to be fulfilled. Looking good, being healthy, showing positive attitude is a mere part of a “personality package,” not a source of learning and personal growth.

This betrays modern people of genuine experiences that can only be made using the body. Some people aim to fill this gap in personal growth by attending Asian health systems like Yoga, Qi Gong, or meditation. Traditional martial arts offer the same philosophy in motion, and they bring even more to the table: Conflict, fear, stress, social skills, and communication.

The Depth of the Traditional Asian Styles

Modern fitness and self defense based systems offer much less depth. While mixed martial arts competition is a fantastic sport and often underrated by Karateka (also because of the testosterone-laden scenarios of competition in the octagon), it does not regard the deeper content of traditional martial arts. Do not underestimate MMA athletes, though. Many of them come from traditional systems and practice much more than what they need in tournaments. Grappling styles like Brazilian Jujitsu offer physical and mental training, as well as holistic knowledge. Nothing, however, beats the traditional Asian styles.

Shotokan Roots in China

The roots of our Karate go back to older arts from Okinawa and China, a fact that has not only been forgotten by many who think Karate is part of the traditional Japanese Budo curriculum. But it has been hidden by Japanese masters who went out of their way to rebrand Karate from “Chinese Hand” to “Empty Hand,” simply by changing the Kanji of the name.

In our Missing Link Community, we use the original character: Ko Ryu Kara Te – old style Chinese hand. The look backwards to China and old Kung Fu styles is as important to us as the focus on modern application and usability. We avoid chitter chatter about “the street” and what is useful. We care about what we can learn for everyday scenarios that actually happen in modern life.

Chinese Martial Arts as Compendium for Modern Karate

What did we find in the Chinese arts?

Flow

First and foremost: Flow. Static stances, powerful hard movements – both can be more obstacle than help for good martial arts:

  • Nothing is static in a fight.
  • A stance is just a short moment in the context of a bigger event.
  • The entire movement is much more important than the end position of a step.
  • Low stances only make sense in the context of weight shift and power development; they have no value on their own.
  • Every technique, any combination, needs to work in a flow, and with a partner.

Nothing is more important than constant partner training. It is essential to develop mental flexibility and the ability to adapt to ever changing circumstances.

Structure

Another important issue is structure:

  • Posture,
  • stability,
  • full body movements and
  • the understanding of principles

This approach is superior to learning single techniques and executing them with maximum strength.

Movements make Perfect

Understanding – and feeling – the body and its movement makes for good martial arts. Discovering the capabilities of the own body and transferring it into work with a partner is surprisingly often neglected in Karate dojos, in favor of endless repetitions of techniques that make no sense without bunkai – the deep analysis of their meaning and usage. The external form of techniques, especially at the END of the movement, is getting much more attention than the application and the internal development of strength and power.

Traditional Martial Arts Connect Mind and Body

These holistic physical experiences create the connection of body and mind mentioned above. The body is the most important gate for emotional learning, and thus for the development of social skills, communication, conflict competence, coping with stress and fear, or in short: A life lived to the fullest.

No other physical training connects body and mind like the traditional martial arts do. The individual and their interaction with others is the main concern of our practice – and the challenges are physical as well as psychological and emotional.

The Missing Links between traditional Martial Arts and Shotokan
The Missing Links between traditional Martial Arts and Shotokan

What kind of martial arts do you practice?

So what is in a style? Why is the question, “What kind of martial arts do you practice” so important?

The Fallacy of Tribal Structures

The martial arts community as a whole has a very tribal structure. That arose surely from the way of teaching it in family structures in the past and then became a matter of national pride. Many Westerners are trying to be more authentic than their Asian teachers – so much that it borders cultural appropriation.

No Challenging of Opinions

Hierarchy and patriarchal structures in many associations are another issue. Not questioning the “master,” worshiping belt colors and double-digit dan degrees leads to an inability to challenge opinions, ask questions or be innovative.

Last but not least, styles give a level of security. To define what you are doing (and what you are not doing) gives control over your own training and a chance to measure your ability. “I have mastered this move, this kata, the rules of Shobu Ippon – I am a master now, my education is finished. I know where I am standing.” The comfort of narrow boundaries is enormous.

New Ideas Can be Challenging

We experience this in our dojos. Our ideas attract high ranked, experienced Karateka. But far too often they also put off these senior martial artists. “I have learned more in one of your lessons than in the last five years of training in my home dojo,” an experienced competition fighter told me. She was was talented, intelligent and fast. “I don’t like it,” she went on. “I will go back to my old dojo.”

Boom! Removing limits drops students into a void and leaves them confused. Our response is a sophisticated Kyu curriculum and a proper syllabus, giving beginners a scaffolding for their learning experience.

That is not the answer for advanced practitioners, though. Training with Missing Link is uncomfortable, challenging and needs engagement. That is what we face every day ourselves.

A Research Community For Karate

We see Missing Link as a research community. Yes, we build up new martial artists. But we also build up the knowledge of the community, and take on board the ideas and new impulses from experienced teachers joining us. Our ranking system is free of Dan degrees. The Okuden and Kaiden Master Levels that we use instead are not earned in a grading, but by delivering a thesis, a new idea, an own concept to the community.

A Diverse Community

This has brought an interesting mix of people to the Missing Link Community that started as a Shotokan-based venture. Soon members of our old ShoShin Projekt – a group of martial artists from different styles working together – joined the group. By now, our dojos in Germany, England, Denmark and Finland combine a colorful bunch of Karateka with a wide knowledge and the hunger to learn and discover more. The topics we care about grew beyond the narrow definitions of a style:

Missing Link offers a versatility curriculum and research.
Missing Link offers a versatility curriculum and research.

Innovative and Open Minded Tradition

What connects all teachers in Missing Link is the idea of a foundation curriculum, described in our book Missing Links of Martial Arts, and the general approach to teaching and learning, also detailed in the very same book. We feel that we have left the limits for personal development behind us in the past. But it also built a strong framework in which Karateka can feel at home if they don’t want to be restrained by an association that cares more for competition sport and purity of styles. Tradition, from our point of view, has to be innovative and open minded.

The Shotokan style is still a basis for many of our members. It has enormous values as a clean, straightforward gate into the complex world of martial arts. We call it the “Japanese garden of martial arts,” pretty and with intense focus. From this garden we want to head for the jungle, though.

Posted on 1 Comment

Money in Shotokan Karate: Insights into a Difficult Relationship

Money and Shotokan Karate have always been a difficult relationship. But they do not have to be, if money is treated right. By Dr. Christian Tribowski

Money in Shotokan karate has been causing many discussions. Observers have accused associations, instructors, and dojos of exploiting the art of Shotokan to become rich. They also associated the foundation of more and more Shotokan organization in the last 50 years with greed. The assumption: Famous instructors set up their own association as cash machines. While in some cases this might be true, one can plausible doubt this assumption, on the other hand.

But I will discuss some foundational questions in this article. Because the relationship between money and Shotokan karate is more complex than many critics take into account. I discuss the following questions:

  1. Why does money in Shotokan causes popular outrage? Does it cause harm?
  2. Why is money used in Shotokan at all? Do we need money in Shotokan?
  3. How to mitigate the tension money causes in Shotokan? How can one judge, whether an organization, dojo, or instructor focuses too much on making money?

Why Does Money in Shotokan Causes Popular Outrage? Is It Harmful?

Shotokan karate is not the only art and/or value-driven system that struggles with money. The conflict between money and other values dates back to the foundation of physical currency in ancient times itself. Jesus Christ, for instance, became famous by what is called today as The Cleansing of the Temple. The bible writes:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Matthew 21:12–13

What happened? One day, Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem and became outraged about all the merchants and money changers, who strolled around the temple and tried to make money. He felt that the sacred place of God should not be humiliated with profane money. Hence, he kicked every one out of the temple, who wanted to exploited it for business purposes. Money should not have the same importance as God.

Such an understanding of a sacred sphere, which shall be protected against the harmful and disgraceful effects of money, can be found in almost every religion, philosophy, and society. Therefore, Shotokan is not an exception.

Money Corrupts Other Values

Today, the subject of social and moral philosophy deals with the relationship between money and other value systems. Especially, Michael Walzer from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and Michael Sandel from Harvard University have contributed to a better understanding why money causes popular outrage. In short, both argue that money corrupts other values.

To make this abstract idea a bit more tangible, let us imagine a medical doctor. He follows – usually – the moral principle of the Hippocratic Oath. The Oath says in the third paragraph:

I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.

Hippocratic Oath

Therefore, the Oath obliges medical doctors to increase the health of their patients under all kind of circumstances. It also consists of a very important element. Readers easily overlook it: It says “to my ability and judgment”. So, not wealth and purchase power determine the type of treatment or whether a treatment takes place at all, but the skills of the doctor. As a result, the moral value of altruism becomes superior in this understanding then making money.

Money Can Undermine Fairness and Justice

Why is that? Because it Walzer and Sandel argue: It calls to our conscience of fairness and justice. One can become sick without intention. A doctor, who takes monetary advantage of that exploits the bad luck of people. Such a behavior undermines trust, fairness, justice, and solidarity. If everybody would only strive for their own advantage one could trust no one. People would become other peoples wolf (Thomas Hobbes). As a result, society and community would fall apart.

Just imagine you would be seriously sick and a doctor, who has a cure, would withhold it from you until you pay him? And what if you do not have the money? Would his behavior clash with your sense of fairness? And what if you die because he withholds the treatment although he could have cured you? Would you feel in the moment you die that you have deserved it because you are poor? Most people would deem such a case more than a failure to render assistance. The doctor intentionally took your death. So, if money is the most important factor for a doctor the Hippocratic Oath becomes corrupted and degraded. In other words: If money becomes sacred all other values become profane. Money then turns from an means to an end.

Money Corrupts Also the Values of Shotokan

In a similar way, but less serious, this scheme also applies to Shotokan (but also to teachers, judges, police(wo)men, firefighters, scientists, social workers, soldiers, officials etc.). The agreement between Shotokanka is the perfection of character as codified in the dojo and niju kun. Thus, they agree upon to follow certain ethical rules like honesty, fighting spirit, respect, and seeking truth. Hence, every karateka should place them as priority. The reason for that lies in the conviction that following this rules leads to a more balanced character as well as civilized society and community.

But what if somebody seeks to make money in the first place? Then, all these values become corrupted. Respect is only paid to the highest bidder or potential customers. The value of honesty and truth have to go out of the window as well. Because making money works best in asymmetrical relations: One party knows more than the other. Honesty and truth mean that this asymmetry will be reduced other the time. Everybody can become a master.

In conclusion, business man or woman try to maintain the asymmetry by not disclosing everything they know (secret knowledge). Therefore, a Shotokan instructor, who strives for money more than for the Do, will withhold certain insights into the art in order to have an edge. He will also teach only what satisfies his students and not what is necessary. They will exploit every revenue stream. They do not care about character development but about wallets. As a result, McDojo´s emerge.

Opponents Fight Against the Negative Effects of Money in Shotokan

The opponents of mingling Shotokan with money try to avoid such situations. For them, the Do and all the values which come with it, shall be deemed and treated as sacred. They protect this sacred values against the profane value of money. Thus, they criticize the intrusion of money into the sphere of Shotokan when ever it takes place. This has clearly a positive effect on Shotokan. Values and their execution have still a high priority in many associations and dojos.

But the fight against money can become double-edged sword. Because a professionalizes system needs money to operate.

Why is money used in Shotokan at all? Do we need money in Shotokan?

Money has negative traits. It can push other values out of their sphere. It also offers a means to turn human beings, the nature, and animals into commodities. On the other hand, it has certain positive features. It makes relationships and processes possible which could not become reality without its existence. For instance: Professional instructors and associations.

In a world without money most members of a society have to hunt, gather, or work as a farmers. Social scientist call such a system a subsistence economy. A complex division of labor like today could not emerge. Exchange would be based on barter. To save up something in order to spend or consume it later poses a difficulty. The most people would work to stay alive. As a result, only feudal lords could effort instructors like the daimyo did with their Samurais in medieval Japan.

Positive Features of Money

In comparison to a subsistence economy a money system has some advantages:

  • Money works as a means for exchange;
  • It can be easily divided in different sizes;
  • Money stores economic value;
  • It transmits economic value.

Imagine you take part in a seminar with a instructor from abroad. Instead of paying money you barter. Somebody would bring potatoes, others pork, and so on and so forth. However, the instructor neither likes potatoes nor pork but rice and fish. Bad luck for him because they are not to your disposal. The instructors would have to carry all that stuff safely back home, too. He had to travel by ship because he would have a container full of potatoes and pork. Some of the potatoes would rot and the most of the pork he would need as payment for the cargo company because it takes 50 days from Europe to Japan on a container ship.

No instructor would go on a journey like that. All that would be way to difficult and inefficient. Therefore, no relationship would take place. With money, on the other hand, he or she just needs a bank account. The hosting party transfer the payment and many problems would be solved.

Without Money no Professionalized and Global Shotokan

While this example exaggerates and we are far beyond the 15th century it shows one thing very clear: In order to have professionalized instructors, associations, and dojos with a sophisticated level of Shotokan skills money is a necessary means. If one cannot make a living through karate the standard and skill level stays very low. Professionalized in this regard means that somebody works full time, has a certain education, works based on standards, and fulfills specialized tasks others cannot fulfill. And without such professionals Shotokan would maybe not exist or not on a global scale.

A system of volunteers, in instance, could not deliver similar services like a professional one. Because the volunteers must work most of the time somewhere else to make a living. Therefore, they can only spend a very little amount of time for practice and for their voluntary work. In addition, no volunteer could effort to travel the world to give seminars like many instructors do.

To be a global and professional system Shotokan must use money. Its features (storage, exchange, divisibility) make a certain skill level as well as international exchange possible. I sum, money works as a means to reach the end of Do.

But how can the negative aspects of money and its positive features be reconciled in a way that it only has positive effects? And when reaches money the point where it becomes destructive?

How to Mitigate the Tension Money Causes in Shotokan?

As mentioned before: Many systems have the problem to use money and must avoid to become corrupted by it. Practitioners, law makers, politicians, as well as social scientist and philosophers have tried to find a satisfying concept to solve this dilemma. To understand the solution it is sense full to go through an analytical scheme developed by German sociologist Uwe Schimank. It consists of five types of organizations and five stages of their orientation towards money.

Money is not an issue

Money comes in without struggle because of a patron, subsidy giver, or a gigantic endowment. People in this organization only follow their actual values like curing disease, producing art, teach, or practicing karate.

Losses of money should be avoided

Money comes in without struggle but losses should be avoided. This applies very often to public transport authorities. They should avoid losses. But if losses take place it is more important whether the organization offered enough services especially to citizens in need.

Losses of money must be avoided

Money comes in but the budget is restraint. Therefore, the management must avoid losses under all kind of circumstances. Schools, museums etc. are in this group. The important thing to note her is that the people working in this organization are also restraint. They must work in order to avoid losses even if it corrupts their values. For an karate instructor that could mean that he only teaches where his costs are fully covered spares poor countries or dojos out.

Losses of money must be avoided and gains should be generated

Money comes in but limited. On the other hand, the stakeholders appreciate the generation of more money. In this organization the employees are limited in their behavior in two ways: Firstly, they must work in a way that losses are avoided; Secondly, they should work in a way that their organization also generates a surplus. Applied to a karate instructor: He only teaches where the costs are fully covered or even better: He only teaches where the host pays more than the actual costs.

Gains are the only aim

Money comes in without or with struggle – it does not matter. The only purpose of the organization is to make money. Everything is an investment and should generate a maximum return. Therefore, the members of the organization will only do what sells. This stage can be called the McDojo Level.

The Trouble Begins at Stage 3

So, what can we conclude from this typology? The difficulties begin at type 3: Losses must be avoided. As a result, money can begin to unfold its corruptible effect. For instance, a dojo faces financial struggles and cannot afford to loss students. Under this kind of circumstances the instructor might become willing to let some rules slide in order to keep students. Of course, it depends a lot on how instructors deal with this situation and how many workarounds they can find. But at this stage money has become important and must be part of the equation for an instructor.

However, even at stage 4 instructors can find solutions without sacrificing the Do. Instructors can open new revenue streams like additional courses, merchandise, or getting another martial arts into the dojo in order to share costs. External funding and co-operation also workout very well. All that can mitigate the economic pressure without corrupting the Do.

Type 5, on the other hand, means: Game over for Do. Here the Do becomes pushed out of the equation. As a result, the organizations focuses solely on money making. The only reason to bring the Do back in is to sell it as a product. In other words: Do becomes a means to the end of profit-maximization.

How to Judge Whether It is Only About Money?

How can one judge whether they he or she is a member of an organization of type 5? The answer must be: It can become difficult to judge, because the organization focuses on marketing and in the creation of an illusion of true value. They know how to sell their product and attract students. They know more about this methods than about Shotokan. Therefore, the numbers of revenue streams, the demeanor of the instructors work as good indicators, and how much it adapts to the market. Some questions to investigate are:

  • Does the organization exploit every option to make money?
  • Are some sources of income off-limits?
  • Does the instructor criticizes students or does he/she only praise?
  • Is the instructor willing to put some pressure on the students?
  • How many times has the organization changed rules in the last five years?
  • What are the reasons for the rules in general and the changes in particular?

Conclusion

If one or more of these questions show an indication that justify suspicion, one should ask further questions or considering to move to another dojo. In some countries, organizations can also apply for a non-profit status. This status comes with specific guidelines and a regular evaluation. For instance, human service providers in the United States must be accredited by the Council of Accreditation (COA). To become accredited they need to comply to certain non-profit standards. In Germany, organizations can apply for the status of common public interest. That means that they also have to comply to certain rules about founding, management, and revenue streams. To watch out for such accreditation can also be a good indicator to not end up in a McDojo.

While money will always cause struggles in the field of Shotokan it does not have to be the end in itself. It can work as a means in order to reach the end of Do.

 

Posted on 3 Comments

Shotokan Karate Philosophy – Diverse and Confusing

Shotokan karate philosophy can be confusing. While the art has a rich diversity of approaches and convictions this also leads to conflicting positions within the community. Where does this diversity come from? And how should we deal with it? An analysis by Dr. Christian Tribowski

Have you ever found yourself in a deep discussion about Shotokan Karate Philosophy? Have you ever felt torn apart between different aspects of Shotokan like bushido on the one hand and the claim to “refrain from hot blooded behavior” (Dojo kun) on the other? Has Shotokan confused you every now and then?

Shotokan Karate Philosophy: The Roots of its Diversity

If you have found yourself in such situations, do not worry. It is not because of you. It is because Shotokan is coined by conflicting claims, purposes, and notions. Since its foundation, several important personalities and groups have attached their ideas about good and right Shotokan to the art. The result is a patchwork of approaches, philosophical orientations, convictions, and practices.

The picture shows Gichin Funakoshi who was the founder of Shotokan Karate Do.
Gichin Funakoshi was the founder of Shotokan Karate Do.

For grand master Funakoshi, for instance, the civilizing and physical-educative aspects of Shotokan were more important than self-defense. His son Gigo, on the other hand, sought to develop Shotokan into an efficient fighting system. Masatoshi Nakayama, who was close to Gigo, brought sports and tournaments into the style. After Nakayama passed away, the differentiation accelerated, and an abundance of Shotokan Karate associations was found. While they all share commonalities, every grand master has left their mark on Shotokan and pushed it to a specific direction.

The Coordinate System of Shotokan Karate Philosophy

To make this confusing situation a little bit more understandable we can develop a simple scheme. This scheme emerges when we reduce the diversity to four distinguishable and ideal typical dimensions of Shotokan. These are:

  • Martial art and self-defense
  • Way of thinking and lifestyle
  • Civilizing means and social philosophy
  • Physical Education and sports
The picture shows Yoshitaka "Gigo" Funakoshi, who developed the style further.
Yoshitaka “Gigo” Funakoshi, who developed the style further

Every dimension can be understood as one pole of Shotokan. If these poles are placed in opposite directions, they create a coordinate system in which every approach, notion, and idea of and about Shotokan can be localized. Some Shotokan-Ka understand their Karate, in the first place, as a means to gain and maintain mental balance and tranquility. They are in between the “civilizing/way of thinking”-pole.

For others, self-defense and self-assertion is at the center of their Shotokan. They tend towards the “martial art and self-defense”-pole. Karateka with ambition to become successful competitors will tend towards the “physical education and sports”-pole. While all these groups belong to the field of Shotokan they have different locations within the field.

Quadrilemma of Shotokan Karate Philosophy
Quadrilemma of Shotokan Karate Philosophy

Good Diversity or Bad Confusing?

But is this situation of diversity good or bad? Is there not one specific “Do”? Is it better to have a unified approach and a coherent idea about Shotokan? Or is it better to welcome the diversity of notions and ways to practice Shotokan? Is it a pain or a blessing?

 Two answers to these questions exist. Both have different qualities and consequences.

  1. An orthodox approach, that understands the existence of different notions and approaches of Shotokan as a unsolvable and morally harmful quadrilemma;
  2. A heterodox approach, that values diversity as positive because a competition of ideas leads to new and better solutions.

The quadrilemma-approach judges the diversity as a painful situation. Ideal typically speaking: Shotokan can either be peaceful or a martial art. It can only be a sport or a superior way of life and thinking. Then, the desire to win over an opponent distorts humility and the perfection of character. Both cannot exist at the same time. The different poles will always undermine each other and stand in constant conflict. Thus, all other dimensions must be excluded in order to make one position logical coherent.

The picture shows Masatoshi Nakayama with JKA instructors. On hi left side: Hirokazu Kanazawa.
Masatoshi Nakayama with JKA instructors.

Shotokan Karate Philosophy is not Black and White

But is this a progressive and realistic solution? The quadrilemma-approach reduces the world to categories of black and white. Instead of solving the problem it retreats to one of the poles, usually to its favorite one. Reality, however, is mostly “grey”. Situations are seldom clear and human beings can be driven by several motives at the same time. One approach or dimension can also serve many purposes or have several effects.

Controlled fighting in a tournament, for instance, can be a very effective means to learn mental control and balance. To think about the civilizing aspects of Shotokan and how the martial arts could fit to them, can lead to the insight that fighting is sometimes necessary to protect other human beings and to maintain the public order. To learn how to fight can be justified through this higher purpose. In this specific case, fighting is not excluded by the other dimension. But its application is conditional and depends on the. Such an approach leads to a more realistic approach of Shotokan. But it also requires critical thinking. Because Shotokanka must learn to judge when to fight or to focus on sports, way of living, and social philosophy.

A very young Hirokazu Kanazawa during Kumite training. He coined Shotokan Karate Philosophy again in a very non-competitive and budo oriented direction.
A very young Hirokazu Kanazawa during Kumite training. He coined Shotokan Karate Philosophy again in a very non-competitive and budo oriented direction.

The Advantages of Diversity

Only with exposure to other approaches, claims, and notions Shotokan Karateka develop critical thinking and deeper insights. If there would be only one of the above-mentioned dimensions, Shotokan would be a static art. Diversity, however, can lead to a constant competition of ideas within an open discourse. That will result in a vital evolution of Shotokan. This requires also that we understand grand masters as people who have added pieces to the puzzle instead of geniuses without fail. Like Newton said: Everybody is a dwarf  standing on the shoulders of giants. Our giants are the teachings of the grand masters and the different Shotokan approaches. They help us to see further than we could without them. The diversity of Shotokan is a blessing.