Violent Perception: The Karate Problem

The Problem with Karate Part 1

Too violent.

Not violent enough.

Too flashy.

Not flashy enough.

Not a serious art.

Too serious.

“That’s a Karate move!”

“That’s not a Karate move!”


Old School

Funny thing is, none of these common impressions are entirely wrong.

Karate is a martial art but at first glance it looks preposterous (aka “mysterious”). I’m going to blow the lid off some of these perception issues today.

What’s with the pajamas?

Gi’s are made and worn for functionality, not sleep.

At about twice the weight of an ordinary pair of jeans, a quality gi (16oz) is more durable than clothes you might otherwise wear and can handle being repeatedly punched, poked, kicked, grabbed, jerked, grasped, parried, pulled, reefed, and of course, bumped on a twice-weekly basis for approximately 2 years before being replaced.

Can you imagine wearing a Wal-Mart t-shirt and taking that abuse for more than a week? I guarantee the first night you will lose the shape of your shirt through stretching or ripping of the shirt and then you’ll have to go back to Wal-mart the next day for a new one.

White is not a cool color.

Sorry. That’s what untreated cotton looks like.

Simplicity was the idea for the last 140 years and in modern times there’s less adhesion to the idea of simplicity as martial arts groups look towards promoting their dojos and styles.

Unfortunately, Karate “product” is virtually the same across the board and all that’s really left to make it unique is to dress it up somehow, hence the rainbow of colors now widely available for uniforms.


It just works better this way.

Stability is one of the cornerstones of all martial arts and most modern shoes, especially athletic shoes, are garbage. They’re squishy, soft and they stretch out. AKA: Unstable.

Additionally, no Sensei wants to get beaned in the back of the head by an errant flip-flop.

But it’s violent!

We contemplate violence to understand what provokes it.

We seek to learn to about violence including our own inborn conflicts.

We seek to adapt to violence, not because we condone it, but because it’s there.


–Sensei Jim


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