The Path to Real Karate is Sometimes Difficult
I remember the time my brother came home and his knuckles were all bloody.
Now, I looked up to my brother, and I quickly asked, “Did you get in a fight? Did you hit somebody?”
“Nah. I was just practicing Karate.”
Practicing Karate? This was back in the sixties, and it was a new word for me. But it wasn’t long before I found the book he had been reading.
Super Karate Made Easy, by Moja Rone.
Never found out who Moja was, but it didn’t matter, he had done his damage.
You see, while it sold millions, and was one of the first big books, probably the first mass produced book, on ‘real’ Karate, it was lacking in…shall we say Common Sense?
And my brother had been out punching telephone poles until his knuckles were bloody because that was supposed to toughen them up, give him a fist that bad guys would be scared of!
But it really gave him a fist that doctors would be scared of, and laid serious groundwork for hands that wouldn’t work, arthritis, and other maladies that go along with abusing the human body.
Years later I would enter my first, real Karate class, and I punched air.
That’s right, I practiced on that great villain…air.
But my hands didn’t get bloody and swell up and become unworkable, and I learned how to focus my awareness. To snap the fist. To tighten upon impact. And when I did eventually start hitting things, the tightness of the hand and the object I was hitting protected me.
And what was I hitting?
The human body.
That’s right, we budding Karate students would do our techniques on each other, and that included striking the body.
And I learned how to go gentle, because I wanted others to go gentle on me.
And I learned to hit harder, because I wanted my technique to be effective.
And I learned what a body felt like, and the correct places to hit the body, and, somewhere in there, I stopped caring about hitting the human body.
Oh, a body is a great feedback device, but when I learned that I could hurt another human body…I didn’t want my own body to be hurt.
Thus, real Karate is learning to be dangerous, learning how to fight back, but it is also learning how to be gentle.
Karate means empty hands, and that is hands without weapons, and, in the end, a hand that is not just a weapon, but it is also not a weapon.