I want to know a bit about Karate.
I've done a little bit of a handful of martial arts now: Taekwondo as a kid, Aikido also as a kid, 5 Animal Kung Fu for a few years, some Wing Chun, Boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and now Muay Thai. I've only done 5 Animal Kung Fu and Boxing for any half decent length of time, so don't be impressed or anything. But the thing is, I've never really learned anything ABOUT Karate let alone given it a shot, and it seems to be something a lot of people have done. Recently I started to catch some more interest in it, though. I've started noticing how many people here stand by it, even in YMAS. I've also noticed that some of the greatest fighters out there have used Karate: Lyoto Machida, Bas Rutten, and even GSP has a Black Belt in Kyokushin.
Honestly, before this interest started I sort of thought of all "Krotty" schools and styles being along the same lines as ATA and WTF except with a Japanese flag instead of Korean. The only things I really know about the art are that Gichin Funakoshi was apparently some badass and that Masutatsu Oyama used Funakoshi's style to create Kyokushin, which I may even be wrong on so correct me if I am. So here are my questions:
1. What are a few things I should know about Karate so that I don't look like a total n00b?
2. Are there any particular styles to stay away from and what should I watch out for if I try to give it a shot sometime?
Here is a quick overview of Karate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karate
Basically if you've done taekwondo, then you have been exposed to Karate without knowing it. Depending on which substyle of Taekwondo, some of the forms will probably be based on the Shotokan katas. Some time in the past, there was a time when Taekwondo actually used Shotokan katas, until there was an internal "need" to make Taekwondo more Korean. Part of the reason for the inclusion of Shotokan forms is that some of the Grandmasters of Taekwondo were shotokan students themselves. So taekwondo is a mixture of Shotokan and the more ancient form of Taeekyon. (I might have spelled it wrong). Some kwons may have varied their substyles to have more or less of Shotokan, or Taeekyon, or Subok. It all varies and it's a bit confusing.
Basically the stances are nearly identical, though I have recently found out, a few substyles of taekwondo actually do the front stance slightly different (Japanese style and many Taekwondo styles have the front foot slightly turned inward, and the back foot is slightly, and the boundary is like a recentagle, while the school I go to have both feet pointed forward, and the boundary is more like a square). Punches, blocks and kicks are nearly identical, though you will see more variation when it comes to blocks. I've seen more variety in kicks Taekwondo. As to the reason, I think it will vary why there are more kicks in Taekwondo. I've read in one Shotokan karate book by Kanazawa or Egami that said something along the lines that "I've recently seen new kicks (referring to Inside and Outside crescent kicks) that seem like a roundhouse. I think these developed as a result of someone not executing the roundhouse correctly." After being in Taekwondo, I think the evolution of the crescent kick is more a result of the competition sparring style.
As for the fighting style, Taekwondo definitely focuses more on kicks. I think this is based on how Taekwondo was taught in the military and the idea was that the hands were important in combat, so if you hurt your hands, you would not be effective in combat, so kicking was preferred. Also, the thought in Taekwondo is that the kick is the most powerful weapon, which it is if you look at it in a purely power prespective, just is not the quickest. Karate tends to focus more on hand striking, with some kicks, but some schools do things like sweeps and trapping that I don't think you would see in Taekwondo.
As for the way the class runs, it's pretty similar. In Shotokan, you do your warm up, practice various techniques. The kicks are focused more or solely on front, side and roundhouse kicks, not much else. Then the practice of forms/katas. Then some sparring if the Sensei allows. Some schools may wait for you to progress first. Some of the sparring may be "Step Sparring". Example would be 1 step or 3 step sparring.
Note, If someoe has better, or more reliable information than what I'm posting, please post. I'm just a guy who did Shotokan for a bit, and just recently got into Taekwondo.
As for your questions.
1) If you have taekwondo experience, then you will pick up things about any karate style quicker than a noob. The main thing that might throw you off is that you may need to adjust stances and/or blocks. Everything else you will learn in the class. The kata/forms are the biggest thing to learn.
2) What to look for not look for. I tend to stay away from McDojo looking places. Find a school that is more traditional. You should be fine if they follow Shotokan, Goju-ryu, Kyokushin, Shito-Ryu, or one of the other substyles. The main thing is learning new forms/katas.
Hopefully that helps.
It does help, actually, although I doubt my Taekwondo experience would help since I was 12 at the time I tried it. Plus it was ATA. Yuck.
I was looking into possibly trying Kyokushin or Shotokan, which is why I had already looked a little bit into the two styles. I think I'm leaning more toward Kyokushin because I think it would compliment my current Muay Thai a bit more. I've been told the kicks are executed with the shins in Kyokushin as well, but again that may be incorrect.
From what I know about Kyokushin is that it's based on Goju-ryu and Shotokan. Their katas have some overlap with both styles. The main distinction I've read about Kyokushin is the idea of body hardening. I think it may completely your Muay Thai nicely.
I don't think the goal should be to find the most traditional school possible, but the school that trains the best.
Yes, you don't want to jump into a school full of 10 year-old 4th dans, star-spangled gis, and glow-in-the-dark nunchaku.
Still, you also don't want a school that focuses on kata and bunkai all day long either, and some traditional schools can be like that.
I'll have to do some looking around at the schools in the area, then. I know of only 2 schools close enough for me to get to regularly if I start and I'm unsure how either school trains.
nice explanation of TKD and karate history...it certianly is an interesting one. Did you read that controversial book about TKD's inception? I can't remember the name, interesting read though.
big differences between karate and TKD are concepts of speed, direction, and distance. You will find a lot of Japanese and Okinawan karate as more grounded and utilizing a closer range than TKD. I would say its more important to find a good teacher than a particular style or organization. While I prefer little hold in the wall dojo that don't advertise and don't allow children, its also important to realize schools with kids have them b/c they bring in the money that pays the bills. With that in mind, of course be wary of places throwing out BBs to kidlets. But its something to simply take into serious consideration, not necesarily a deal breaker. Much of my training has been done by teachers who are lifelong practitioners, and have their dojo on their property, thus do not need to have an income...but that is certianly not always going to be the case. Just keep your mind open and pay attention, and make sure whatever school you are looking at 'passess the sniff test."
I prefer GoJu Ryu kata, but I am likely biases since I've trained GoJu since before I was a teenager (we didn't have kids classess back then). I've also had a little training in Uechi Ryu and a Shotokan/TKD combo (I say combo instead of blend, because the teacher delineates the two for testing purposes...to include korean and japanese terminilogy). I find all of them good training, though TKD is really counterintuitive to my karate training, and hard for me to mimic well.
Try training with both of them. I always find it interesting to drop an email or phone call to a new dojo and see how they react to me inquiring about training at their dojo on a temporary basis (I am in the military and travel a lot. I try to train as much as I can at different places when I am traveling, and often guest-train at dojo for a week or two). Their reaciton to such a request tells a lot about the school. Feel free to drop some websites of these schools on here and get opinions, if you feel comfortable doing that. Also, don't be put off by a crappy website. A lot of great martial arts instructors I know have archaic internet skills.
Originally Posted by zaohu
It's a real mixed bag. All the following are karate