I don’t mean any disrespect to fellow martial artists, instructors, promoters, agents and etc., but I think the brain washing should come to a complete stop. Each time I hear fellow martial artists define karate as a fighting art; I want to just scream to the top of my voice in wailing pain.

Listen, karate has never been…and true karate will never be…a fighting art! In all of my 42 years as a martial artist, I’ve never taught any of my students to fight. True karate training was never designed to be an art of fighting. Most will agree with me that karate stemmed from the Buddhist Priest or Sholin Temple which we know were very, very, very serious and dedicated PRIEST. Neither priest back in 500 a.d. nor does the priest of today condone fighting of any kind. Therefore the training that was taught in the Sholin Temple had nothing to do with fighting. It wouldn’t be a very good symbol, signal or image for a Sholin Priest to have. Therefore, the mind set for martial arts training within the temple was not that of a combative fight or engagement. They NEVER, ever developed fighting skills. When the Chinese saw these skills displayed in action, they called it “Chinese Boxing.” When the Japanese saw it, they called it “Karate.” When the Americans saw the same skills, they called it “Fighting.” So again, the Americans screwed up another sacred art by labeling it with their unlearned definition.

The dictionary defines fighting as a struggle or an exchange of blows between two or more individuals in a physical and hostile combat. The Sholin Priest taught against anything that was perceived to be anything close to a struggle or hostile of any nature. So why would Priest develop an art and train so diligently in it if it went against their life dedicated spiritual beliefs?

The eighth sutra of the Tao goes like this: The highest good is like water. Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive. It flows in places men rejects and so is like the Tao. In dwelling, be close to the land. In meditation, go deep in the heart. In dealing with others, be gentle and kind. In speech, be true. In ruling, be just. In business, be competent. In action, watch the timing. No fight: No blame.

If this is one of the Sholin Temple’s sacred rules to live by then what were all their skilled training designed for? It was designed simply for the exercise….That’s it. These exercises or forms extended their oneness with themselves and the universal until they could do unheard of feats. It was T’an Tsung of the Sholin Temple in Honan, who helped the first emperor of T’ang to put down his enemy Wang Shih-ch’ung. T’an Tsung helped the emperor by teaching his soldiers the external system of the art. Chang San-feng and the internal system tradition stayed secret as it was specifically used for the monks need to have a more forceful mode of exercise.

Now think about it. In the time of war, about 618-907 a.d., combat was done in close quarters and personal. Thousands of soldiers clashed in the fields of battle. There was no time to concentrate on one or two individuals. You had to down an opponent in less than 5 seconds or you may yourself become the victim. So karate had to be taught in a manner whereas one could defeat their opponent almost immediately and go to the next one. I don’t see very much fighting that can be done in less than 5 seconds. Mind you, this was only the external system of karate. The difference in the external system and the internal system was the external system stressed the regulation of breath, training of bones and muscles, the ability to advance and retreat, and unity of the hard and soft, while the internal system stressed training of bones and muscles, exercise of ch’i-kung (breathing methods) subduing the offensive by stiffness, and had the aim of defeating an enemy at the instant he attacked. It was said that a kiai from the internal system could bring an opponent to his knees and render them helpless. Similar to an opera singer breaking a glass with a loud decibel note, the kiai could affect parts of the body such as the ear drums, the heart rhythm and etc.

The internal and external systems may be differentiated conveniently as follows:

Internal System = Will, Vital Energy, and Strength

External system = Eye, Fist, and foot

I don’t care what style of karate it is, or what system is taught, if a practitioner is attacked by an assailant in the street and using one blow the practitioner breaks the assailants leg, how long will the assailants aggression pursue? If an assailant attacks and using one technique the assailants arm is dislocated or broken, how long many more blows will the assailant throw? If an assailant attacks and the practitioner executes only one kick that crushes the assailant’s chest, regardless of how angry the assailant is, how much longer will they push forward?

The martial artist that relates karate to fighting, I sometimes wonder if they’ve ever been attacked in the street at all. I’ve been attacked in the street at least 12 or 13 times, and each time I’ve never thrown more than 3 or 4 techniques that resolved the entire issue. I’m 5’2” tall and weights 165lbs soaking wet, yet karate gives me the ability to break with either hand or foot on contact. I really don’t concentrate on formal self defense forms a lot as I feel it doesn’t matter where or how I hit an assailant, because I know as long as I make contact I can break them. So where’s the fight? I’ve spent so many years training myself to break at least 4 to 5 bricks with one strike and so has so many others in this industry, then I feel we’re very capable of breaking any part of an assailants' body that we make contact with. If we break any part of an assailant’s body each time we make contact, then I don’t feel a fight will ever evolve. You can exchange blows with an opponent without ever taking a single lesson in karate. You can struggle in a hostile battle without taking a single karate lesson. Karate is supposed to be the solution to those issues, not the definition of it. We have to change our mind set and our lead into the martial arts training process and realize our art is not developing fighting skills at all, but the exact opposite.

So fellow martial artist, Black, White, Oriental, Hispanic or otherwise, join me in correcting this oversight and continuous mind set error and let the world know that our art, regardless of its heritage, is a training process that is specifically designed to totally eliminate a fighting scenario. Therefore, let’s stop using the phrase “Fighting Art,” and call it exactly what it is “The Art of Not Fighting.” Get my point!

Whenever you advise a ruler in the way of the Tao,
Counsel him not to use force to conquer the universe.
For this would only cause resistance.
Thorn bushes spring up whenever the army has passed.
Lean years follow in the wake of a great war.
Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.
Achieve results,
But never glory in them.
Achieve results,
But never boast.
Achieve results,
But never be proud.
Achieve results,
Because this is the natural way.
Achieve results,
But not through violence.
Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of the Tao.
That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.

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