10 Disturbing Myths About Karate Everyone Thinks Are True

1: “Karate people break bricks every day.”

We’ve all heard it.

“So… how many boards can you break?”

In Japanese, the skill of breaking bricks and boards is called “tameshiwari”.

But few of us do it on a regular basis.

In fact, some Karate dojos never incorporate tameshiwari at all.


Bruce Lee said it best:

“Boards don’t hit back”

However, there’s merit to doing it.

Not because it looks exciting for demos, but for pressure testing your physical, technical and mental capabilities.

A board/brick is a physical manifestation of your self-imposed limits.

To crush it is to crush your deepest fears.

It’s 99% spirit.

But… it’s a myth that we do it “all the time”.

2: “Karate people have total self-control.”


I get bruises, cuts and strange voodoo marks on my body after EVERY Karate class.

Not because I’m a masochist.

But because NOBODY has perfect self-control.

In the unpredictable realm of physical combat, total self-control is Utopia.

Sure, we might strive for it. We might try to reach that dream of impressively holding back our punches and kicks a hair-width in front of our opponent’s nose.

But let’s face it:

Shit happens.

No matter how good self-control you have.

Karate does teach self-control, and we typically have a higher degree of fine motor control than most regular people, but it doesn’t guarantee it.

We still make mistakes – just like everyone else.

And remember; self-control is mental too.

To master yourself is the highest form of mastery.

3: “Karate was created by poor farmers in Okinawa to secretly defend themselves against Japanese samurai warriors.”


Ask yourself this:

If you were a poor farmer in ancient Okinawa, working 12 hours a day in the rice field just to support your family, would you spend your few free hours punching and kicking imaginary samurai warriors in secrecy to develop some kind of deadly fighting system?


And I’m the Pope.

You just need a quick glance at any respectable index of ancient Karate masters to notice something interesting…

They were all scholars, aristocrats or privileged families. 

Most founders of Karate belonged to the noble class (“shizoku”) of warriors (“pechin”), ranging from the low warrior caste (“chikudun”) to the high (“peekumi”).

Some masters even belonged to the “oyakata” (lord), which was the highest of the privileged classes before we step up to the royal classes of “aji” (descendant of a prince) and “oji” (prince).

These were the titles held by the pioneers of Karate!

To understand how significant the caste system of ancient Okinawa was, I can inform you that a “pechin” (warrior class) was 6 times ‘higher’ in status than a farmer.

Here are some historical Karate masters and their social class:

  • Matsumura Sokon (1809-1899): Pechin class. (Bodyguard of the king.)
  • Sakugawa Kanga(1786-1867): Chikudun Pechin class.
  • Soeishi Ryotoku (1772-1825): Oyakata class. King’s secretary!
  • Chatan Yara (1740-1812): Chikudun Pechin class.
  • Tawata Shinboku (1814-1884): Chikudun Pechin class.
  • Sueyoshi Anyu (unknown): Pechin class.
  • Chikin Seionori (1624-unknown): Oyakata class.
  • Chinen Umikana (1797-1881): Chikudun Pechin class.
  • Higa Kanematsu (1790-1870): Pechin class.
  • Chinen Masanra (1842-1925): Chikudun Pechin class
  • Kyan Chofu (unknown): Shizoku class.
  • Hamahiga Oyakata (1847 – unknown): Oyakata class.

I can keep name dropping all day.

Want more?

How about Motobu Choki (1870-1944)? Aji class (direct lineage to the king). Same as Chibana Choshin (1885-1969) and Yoshimura Chogi (1866-1945).

And don’t forget Yabu Kentsu (1866-1937). Shizoku class. Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957). Same. Toyama Kanken (1888-1966), Mabuni Kenwa (1889-1952), Taira Shinken (1897-1970), Shiroma Shinpan (1890-1954) etc. They all belonged directly to a noble, upper class family or descended from one.

The majority of Karate’s historical forefathers belonged to the elite of Okinawa’s ancient society.

It’s exactly like Funakoshi Gichin once wrote:

“Karate wa kunshi no bugei.”

“Karate is the martial art of sophisticated people.”

Leave the farmers alone.

4: “Karate comes from Chinese Kung-Fu.”

Sort of.

You see, Okinawa – the birthplace of Karate – was an island influenced by tons of cultures, traditions and martial arts practices during the Ryukyu Kingdom era.

This is because Okinawa’s location in the East China Sea made it an awesome hotspot for trade between different countries for thousands of years.

China was just ONE of the influencing cultures.


Since Chinese society in general, and its martial arts in particular, was held in very high regard during the formation of what would later be known as “Karate”, it had a bombastic impact on the local Okinawan martial arts community.

So, yeah, Chinese Kung-Fu did influence the early history of Karate.

But that’s before it was known as Karate – they called it “Toudi” (“Chinese hand”).

Karate developed later.

It’s 100% its own martial art.

5: “Black is the highest belt.”

Not exactly.

Although media often portrays black belt as being the “ultimate level” of Karate, there’s much more to the story.

Sure, some people think it’s the end.

(I call this The Black Belt Syndrome: When people get their black belt and suddenly stop training, since they were so focused on hunting that belt instead of using Karate as a tool for exploring and developing their human potential.)

Black belt is just the beginning.

Now the real training starts.

Everything else was just preparation.

In fact, a black belt is nothing special. When I lived in Japan, I used to see kids with black belts running around everywhere. But for some reason, the Western world has elevated it into some dark, mysterious, semi-legendary achievement.

This is funny. Because I know Japanese masters who’ve given black belts to Americans after only a few months of training – just to get rid of them!


In Okinawa, the highest belt is actually red.

Few achieve it.

6: “You have to be athletic, strong or flexible to practice Karate.”

Oh boy.

  • I used to be chubby.
  • I wasn’t very strong.
  • I could barely kick above my waist.

Today, things have changed.

I look like a modern-day Greek god, squat 3x my bodyweight and kick so freakin’ high Chuck Norris asked me to teach him how.

All because of Karate!

I’m joking.

(But only half-joking.)

You see, when I look back at my chubby, weak and stiff self, I’m amazed at the results of traditional Karate training. But I didn’t even try. I just showed up to the dojo and consistently put the work in.

Still, I get asked all the time:

“Do I have to be athletic/strong/flexible for Karate?”

Absolutely not.

You DON’T have to be great to start.

But you have to START to be great.

7: “Karate makes you a better human being.”

Let’s define “better”.

What’s a “good” human being?

Virtuous? Kind? Humble? Powerful? Courageous? Cool?

It depends on who you ask.

That’s why I believe Karate is a personal journey. You need to decide for yourself why you practice, how you practice, and what you expect to get in return for your effort.

Karate will give you EXACTLY what you put in.

Nothing less. Nothing more.

If you pour your heart and soul into Karate, you might very well become a “better” human being. I sincerely hope so, because that would make the world a better place.

But almost anything can make you a “better” human being.

It’s not WHAT you do.

It’s HOW you do it.

“Karate aims to build character, improve human behavior, and cultivate modesty; it does not, however, guarantee it.”

– Yasuhiro Konishi (1898-1983)

Get it?

8: “Karate people are experts at self-defense.”

Let’s be honest:

Some Karate schools don’t teach effective self-defense at all.

They teach physical activity…

…which may, or may not, involve elements of pseudo self-defense.

It used to be different.

The original purpose of Karate was to defend yourself in civil self-defense.

But as Karate passed through history, via the hands and minds of generations with different agendas, it became subject to personal dogma and political agenda.

Suddenly, the original purpose of Karate was confused.

It became less about self-protection…

…and more about self-perfection.

“The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of the participants.”

– Funakoshi Gichin (1868-1957)

These days, some Karate instructors NEVER teach practical self-defense.

That’s okay.

As long as we’re open about it.

9: “There are weapons in Karate.”


It’s right there, in the name:

  • “Kara” – Japanese for “Empty”
  • “Te” – Japanese for “Hand”

“Karate” = “Empty Hand”

Yet, some people think we use weapons in Karate!

How can “empty hands” hold weapons?

Let me explain:

Before Karate was modernized, weapons were always practiced together with empty hand techniques.

This aspect of training later became known as “Kobudo” (lit. “old martial ways”) and was standard procedure back in the days.

Today, Kobudo is practiced in very few dojos with the same level of quality and passion as their Karate.

I think more instructors should learn it.

Because a self-defense oriented martial art isn’t complete without addressing the armed aspects of combat as well.

Ask any old master from Okinawa.

They will tell you that Karate and Kobudo are like two wheels of a cart.

You need both.

Or you crash.

10: “Karate is difficult.”


When regular people see Karate practitioners perform hard katas, flashy takedowns, deep stances, spinning back kicks and other “complex” stuff, it seems good.

But that’s a myth.

Good Karate should look easy!

(Otherwise, you’re doing something wrong.)

I think people make Karate hard on purpose. It’s like a complexity fetischism. They see simplicity as bad. Instead of improving their basics, they want to dabble with advanced stuff – because it makes them feel superior.

They’re blinded by the myth of complexity.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

Remember this:

The easy way is often the right way.

If your Karate looks difficult, you’re probably not doing it right.

Slow down. Think through it. Find a new solution. Try again. Breathe. Relax.

Don’t confuse hard training with smart training.

Good Karate is sophisticated.

That’s it!


  • David Gimberline
    Excellent post, Jesse.
    • Much appreciated David-san!
      • Tom
        Jesse, it is always a pleasure reading your publications. From my first encounter with your work, when I read your brilliant article on the myths of the blackbelt to now, I really enjoy your articulate and astute insight. I practiced American Kenpo in the US starting in 1995 and a few years later (after school closed) I transitioned into ITF and WTF Taekwondo starting over at 10th Guep (humble pie served.). I still practice TKD today, now in Germany, and study Goju Ryu off to the side. I guess I love all styles of martial arts that I want to absorb the most knowledge possible. Soon I will be opening a school of my own and further hope to instill the love of the martial arts into future students, while promoting the traditions. Please continue to promote and love the arts as you have been. I have no doubt that you will my friend. Best wishes for you and may the roads rise up to meet you in your travels.
  • In Spain, there is the myth that if you are black belt, in case of a defense that gets to justice court, you are legally considered as if you were using a knife. Some people even say there are senseis whose fists are registered in the police office (as if they have a gun or something). Bullshit.
    • Israel
      You hear the same stuff here in the states also. Guess some folks just have to hype themselves up.
      • Same here in Belgium. And the dude that told me this was so serious he almost convinced me :-/ The most stupidest legend I've heard about karate was in an ITW of a younb kumite belgian champion who held a 3rd dan in shotokan at that time. Question: "what does it mean to be a 3rd dan?" The answear was freakingly stupid: "It means I can take down up to 3 opponents at once." -_-' Following that logic, a 10th dan can take down up to 10 opponents AT ONCE. God help us!!
    • KCO
      Well, when karate first came to Denmark in the late 60'es, karate-ka's were required to register their name in a central police database over martial arts performers as they were considered to be dangerous. The practice was abandoned somewhere in the mid 70'es. However, in a legal prespective, people practicing martial arts are expected to be better at "pacify" attackers, and thus they are more limited in how much force they may applly in case of self-defense. The historical points of this article are fully identical to anything else I have hears or read on the subject, this article somehow makes it a bit more straight-forward than most others, so credit to Jesse Enkamp for his ability to communicate a rather complex topic to a broad audience.
    • Miguel Corsi
      The same happens in Argentina , the myth says that you are "portador de arma blanca" ...anyway a lawyer told me that in particular cases if you are martial artist, you are responsible for the power of your fists, so this is half true
    • Victorv
      Damn, same thing happens un México
  • Jaj
    If it's true that karate was developed by upper-class people rather than farmers (and I have no reason to disagree), what about kobudo? As mentioned, weapons were used along with empty hand techniques. I was always told these weapons were "farmers' implements," is this also a myth?
    • Josep
      Well, the Karate Masters we all know that came from Okinawa to Japan were from higher classes, no doubt. But guess what, in modern days people still have to work, and most of the karateka in the world are not from the nobility. Yesterday I worked 11 hours and then headed to the Dojo! Probably many people practiced martial arts in Okinawa, in different ways and for different purpouses.
    • The people of Okinawa were expressly forbidden from using bladed weapons and other known military weapons. It was an old royal decree from one of the kings of Ryukyu that was heavily enforced by the Toranaga Shogunate when Japan took over Okinawa. So the Okinawans improvised, and thus was born Okinawan Kobudo weapons training.
    • And how about Kanryo Higashionna? Wasn’t he illiterate? Probably just the exemption
      • Kuang
        Higaonna Kanryo being illiterate, sick and lonely is a myth. He is in fact a merchant. Some gojuryu school made up this story to glorify the founder Miyagi Chojun.
  • Ossu! [bow] Thanks for making me smile and making me think. I'm better equipped to answer some of these myths now :-) I gladly accepted the invitation to be a dojo representative on our organization's board of directors a few months ago, and although we've done some great fundraising and special events, we have never broken any boards. What gives??? LOL!!! Wow, you really did your homework about the "poor Okinawan farmers." Thanks! If I'm running around tournaments wearing an "aka" belt I'm misrepresenting my rank? Uh oh ;-) Don't forget "You have to be young to practice or even start Karate!" This was one of my biggest excuses until my daughter and her Senseis started bugging me to get back on the mats (and believe me I knew what I was in for because I'd trained before). Physically, Karate is harder now than when I was a teen. But the tradeoff is it's easier mentally. I like to think of Karate as increasing my odds of survival rather than a surefire self defense system. Heck, common sense, self-confidence and awareness alone has kept me safe for most of my life now! Still, I'm a long way from that scrawny, scared, teenage girl who tucked her thumb inside her fingers! LOL, I had a good lesson in #10 the other night. We were doing moving basics, the senior student was leading. At one point he called out: zenshin, zenkutsu dachi, mawashi geri, uchi uke (in Shindo Jinen-ryu the hand going back to chamber first extends and the blocking arm moves towards the midline of the body), finish with gyaku tsuki. Oh my! So me being the old lady of the class, I tried streamlining it so that I wouldn't have to do all sorts of gyrations and contortions to get it to work with any kind of speed. I got it working pretty well when Sensei interrupted. He then asked us why it felt awkward. Nobody knew. Then he said and demonstrated, "Try it this way." We did, and I was the slowest of everyone, including those below me in rank. Sensei then said and demonstrated, "Now try this." It was very nearly what I'd already worked out. All the teenagers had been working too hard, but I, the lazy old lady, was more than halfway towards making the combination actually work. #11 - We have to provide slave labor for Sensei but the tradeoff is we learn Karate. Seriously - I've had teenagers who weren't even born when that movie came out ask me if I'd wash Sensei's car. I quipped I'd take that over a million punches in horse stance any day. #12 - You learn mystical mind powers. To that I say, "I haven't seen anyone levitate yet, Grasshopper." Sometimes this gets ugly, which is a pity. #13 - Karate is for men. I hear this from women. I say, "Why should the boys have all the fun???" #14 - I only stuck this in here because some people don't like the number 13. It's peculiar to our dojo, which is in a YMCA. "Karate is for kids." Yes, and it's for adults too, and I wish people wouldn't make assumptions based on what they see when they walk past our studio. Because they don't know the belt system, they think I'm one of the instructors because I'm a middle-aged matron. Nope, I'm only 8th kyu. Ack, this is long, but hey, I'm a Karate nerd too... [bow]
    • Thank you Joelle-san! Great input for a "part 2" post. Keep chiming in!
    • Talaniel
      “You have to be young to practice or even start Karate!” - a good one :-) I started practising Karate when I was 35 (along with my son) with no previous experience with martial arts :-) It hurts, it is really not easy to do those kicks with my poor body, but I'm improving :-) And hope to get the 7th kyu in June exam :-)
      • Dione
        Young and fit! I started at 35 with my kids too and 30kg overweight. 6 yrs later, with a year off for knee injury, I have my brown belt. I'm still overweight and have tried to loose it but haven't been able to. Makes some of it hard to do but it can still be done and I'm loving it.
  • Erasmo
    Very good words. Congratulatons! Osu.
    • Thanks Erasmo-san! :-)
  • Really nice post, full of interesting stuff.... that I almost miss because the "click bait" title.
  • Arjun Sarup
    Very interesting post with some really nice points covered, just like one might ask FAQs. I'm glad it made mention of kobudo along with karate. I've learned some interesting historical information from this post, thank you for sharing. Ous.
  • Mike
    look at forms of Sanchin = White Crane. It proven in the records (i can look up the names). The karate founder learned White Crane and used the forms in karate. That's just the truth.
  • Mark
    A very good post. One minor criticism: regarding point #9, the original character for the 'kara' in karate was not 'empty' (??. The character used was ??, which is the character for 'Tang' in Chinese. Rather than go into too many details here, take a look at the origins of the name 'karate' once again. Otherwise, quite a good synopsis. (I liked some of the comments, especially how another myth was that karate was only for men.)
  • Dale
    Actually, Bruce Lee said, boards don't hit back. Bolo Yeung said Brick not hit back. Still, great article.
  • Robert Wisniewski
    Great post. And #8--so very true. I have nothing against martial arts for sporting purposes as long as the instructors are honest with their students about what they are really learning. I have spent over 50 yrs studying the martial arts and another 35 as a professional firearms instructor. Some of what i see being taught to students at "self defense seminars" makes my blood boil.
  • Steve
    People often ask if I can kick them upside the head. I tell them "Yes, but I have to knock you down first".
    • Dione
      Love it!
  • Sorry, but I'm totally disagree with you in the number 7: Be a genuine karateka means to be a better person, and It not depends on who you ask. Gichin Funakoshi (shotokan), Kenwa Mabuni (Shito-ryu) and Chojun Miyagi (Goju-ryu) defend the virtue in his books. - Humility - Self control - Justice So... a good, genuine and complete karateka knows the technique and fight against itself to be virtuous every day. anyway... Thanks for your articles!
  • Ralf
    concerning No.5: the highest belt in Okinawa is not always red. that depends on the organization. e.g. Sensei Shoshin Nagamine: he never wore a red belt, although he was a 10th dan. he always wore a black belt. concerning No.9: don't take "empty hands" too literal. Just as Gichin Funakoshi said: a Karateka is to empty his mind from egoism and evilness so he can react in an apropriate way to whatever could befall him. That's what is meant with "empty". just as you wrote because you know: Kobujutsu and Karate are like 2 wheels of one cart.
  • Jim
    Great topic Jesse....keep em coming !
  • Brandon
    I take issue with number five. Not that I believe that black belt is the highest rank, but because it's the training curriculum of many dojo that keeps a person from gaining any proficiency by shodan. It would be unreasonable to think that someone would gain any sort of competency in kata, their applications or even just their principles when one must learn the patterns of so many kata in a relatively short amount of time. If we were conservative and said that it takes five years to become competent in a kata or set of kata like naihanchi or peinan, than it would take one 50 years to gain competency in ten kata, and many people are taught the pattern of 15-18 kata by shodan depending on style. It would then take them 75 to 90 years of study in these kata to gain competency, but possibly not mastery. Almost sounds like a scam. "In just three to five years and 48 easy payments of $99.95 you too can just begin to start learning the mysterious art of karate!"
    • The thing to remember about the term Shodan, the "sho" part means beginning. We commonly call it First Degree or Level, but that would be Ichidan. There is something humbling in the subtle difference between Shodan and Ichidan. As a Shodan you should recognize that you've completed the first major step to mastery. But you're not a master yet. You've learned your curriculum, now it's time to explore it and discover the hidden gems.
      • Brandon
        I'm aware of it's meaning. I don't find it humbling. I find it disturbing. You might as well teach an illiterate several different alphabets for several years without teaching them the sounds they make, how to form words or teach them grammar. I'd rather have one polished gem than ten rough and cracked.
        • Rick Brown
          Why do you believe it takes 5 years to learn a single kata?
  • Always enjoy your posts, Jesse. Please consider joining us down here in Delray Beach, Florida this August for our gasshuku!
  • Mike
    Woot chuck norris screen shot or it never happened ???? Nice article
  • Ian
    I am intrigued by your photo for #8. My initial reaction is that the two are too far apart. The 'defender' on the left should be using his back hand (right hand) to block the incoming punch and grasp that forearm, and using his front hand (left hand) to counter-attack his attacker, probably with a neck-strike (and if their feet were oriented differently, preliminary to a throw.) Thoughts?
    • Dod
      Ian, there is so much wrong in the picture that I am assuming (hoping) that it is intended as an illustration of the lack of realism often that is often trained
      • Talaniel
        Well, I'm not 100% sure but I think this photo comes from Nakayama's Dynamic Karate (with the left one being Nakayama I believe) and this book contains notes on mistakes in stances/techniques so this image could be one of those.
        • Henrik Petersson
          The person on the left may have stepped back as the person on the right attacked.
  • Interesting read here, and glad to see the article touching on the Chinese influence. Martial Arts myth cleansing is important to do, especially now in its modern day rise...
  • "Shotokan Karate is a style founded buy Gichin Funakoshi", another myth. The truth is that he never taught Shotokan Karate. He opened a dojo called Shotokan and there his son Yoshitaka and the sempais developed a new style of karate leter called Shotokan Karate. But Gichin Funakoshi never did that, he never did a long zenkutsu dachi or a wide kiba dachi. He always practiced and taught Shuri-Te/Shorin Ryu karate. Even in federation exams to earn a black belt you gotta say "Shotokan Karate is a style founded buy Gichin Funakoshi" and is untrue.
  • Cool post, Jesse. Regarding weapons - you're right! Kobudo is practiced with much LESS proficiency than empty handed Kata. it's a shame really - Kobudo is such a beautiful compliment to empty handed Karate. You'll often hear that with Kobudo, the weapon is in essence an extension of the student's hands, etc. Understanding (or at least trying to understand) Kobudo can help you further develop your empty handed technique. I have respect for student that dedicates a good amount of time to Kobudo. Check out my post regarding the Top 5 Okinawan weapons! http://www.pennellsdojo.com/top-5-okinawan-weapons-part-i-the-bo-om-stick/
  • noticing the amount of comments with reference to the age that you should begin karate , i started when i was 38 and am now in final training for my 2nd Dan and my son is in training for his 1st Dan this has become a way of life that i would not be complete without oss to you Jesse Enkamp
  • Another great article Jesse! I really like #5, and #7. I especially love the "Karate will give you EXACTLY what you put in." That is so true. I've always believed this. Thanks for sharing!
  • Andrew
    Nice article. I do feel I must argue one point that you made. "Boards don't hit back". Bruce Lee never said that, a character he was playing (named Lee) said it. And anyway, he was wrong: boards DO hit back. Newton's 3rd law of motion explains why.
  • Bucksmallsy
    Kanazawa Kancho, Nariyama Kancho, Yosihiro, Tanaka, even my long time teacher John Taylor Hanshi have all said the exact same thing to me since I was a 12 year old boy. Ironically this rule was first told to me by my then Grndnfather as a very young boy aged 5. The Rule of the Seven (7) "P's". Prior, Planning, Preparation, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance ! This is the lead up to attaining Shodan in any discipline. It took me 8 long painful years to grade Shodan in Karate, and even longer in Judo. The only way to truly test one's skill is in real combat ; and I don't mean Kumite Competitions (they are a complete waist of time). I mean, join the Military (eg. SF) and then, and only then will you truly find out whether or not the Rule of the 7 P's was acquired correctly throughout your basic training up to Shodan. Far too many people have a black belt but they are incompetent in their skill set ! They don't have the meta-physical fortitude, nor foresight, nor wisdom to see outside of themselves which they do not wish or cannot see ! gain, interesting how ALL these article keep coming back to ORIGIN (Train for real or don't bother). Osu !
  • Bucksmallsy
    I agree , Osu !
  • Ronnie
    Bruce said Boards don't hit back. NOT Bricks
  • Rikuto
    I love this post with every fiber of my soul. Gonna share the hell out of this! Just one thing, Jesse-san. I know I should keep my big mouth shut, but as a Bruce Lee nerd, I must correct:... "Boards don't hit back." Sorry! Please don't Hurticane me.
    • Thanks Rikuto-san! Yeah, I butchered Bruce's quote, didn't I? ; -)
      • Rikuto
        Don't worry about it that much! I'm just a vain little man (I will admit, not proud of that!) :P The sheer awesomeness of this article pretty much nullifies that one mistake. This clears a few things up for me and actually points out a problem I've been having. In my head, I've been worried about "advancing" and I think it has discouraged me somewhat. I should know well that simplicity is best, but at the same time, I guess I just wasn't getting it. Also, thank you for bringing to light the "self defense/self perfection" element. I'm going to be doing a lot of studying from now on to find the practical uses for self defense in karate (while keeping the pursuit for self perfection wide open). It'll be hard doing this by myself, but I'm determined, so I'll give it my best shot!
  • Fayad
    Worth spending a few minutes to read this. Very informative and eye opening. Good work Jesse San. Looking for more in future.
  • Ive talked to Jesse in Person, and I have seen his videos. The man can move! He really knows his stuff. Much love from Ageless Karate Las Vegas!
  • Dear Jesse San, Excellent post ! But today people around the world has become Dan grade and belt oriented. Even the mightest world bodies started selling dan grades. Even in my country every tom dick and harry get 6th Dan 7th dan . I know a guy who was San dan in 2012 and suddenly in 2014 he appeared as 7th Dan . Hahaha . Money can buy everything except skills, knowledge and experience. On the other hand I know a master who was invited by Morio Higaonna Sensei for his next level dan grading. Such a proud moment. This has almost spoiled culture of Karate. Very sad and bad for society.
    • Andrew
      Naresh, I don't know if this is any consolation to you. But, we see this as a rampant problem in Taekwondo as well. ATA Taekwondo is renowned for this. And WTF/Kukkiwon Taekwondo is also interesting: 14 and under cannot be dan-certified, but, nothing except the school owner can dictate what the students wear. It is common to see kids (14 and under) wearing a black belt, but who are not dan-certified. In their defense, they may be "poom" certified, which is Korean which means "junior". So they are "junior dan certified"... :-( And, not to be outdone, but, I am seeing MMA gyms having a belt structure and giving out black belts too - Tiger Shulman's has been doing this for years.
  • Stefano
    Best article yet, Yoku dekimashita Sensei Enkamp. This resinated with me as I see this daily with my students and fellow sempai and many should open their eyes to this as well.
  • Anon
    Karate doesn't mean empty hands. It used to be ??, ?:Chinese ?:Hand But when they brought it to Japan they kept the pronunciation but changed the character because obviously "Chinese hand" wouldn't look good, so now we have "empty hand".
  • Koryuninja
    I know the real reason for why martial arts kick high and it's hilarious.
  • CJ Rivera.
    I just seen this today. Awesome knowledge. I heard a story were a brown belt left to Japan . Few months later he was a black belt. So true and point on. The history of the master was great. OSU
  • adrian
    hi ive been doing karate for a wile i got up to 2 kyu i was going for my 1 kyu 2015 i did not pass and left as i felt i have reached my limit as i have dyslexia now ive come back after 4 years been off ive got to try and remember it all from the beginning but knowing i will never be able to reach my goal to get my black belt as in the club i have to remember 1 all the kata 2 ippon 3 18 lohan = animals- tiger - elements - crane ect ect ect 4 weapons kata so for me its to much for me to take in so should i go to a club were it would be easier ?
  • Nice article sensei, I mainly practice shito-ryu karate do, but I have big respect for other styles, have even practiced some goju-ryu with a good friend of mine, but I'm curious to ask, what do you think of kyokushin karate? I have the privilege to have a few classes and I do like the hard work philosophy it has. Greetings from Guatemala. Ossu!
  • Brian lini ger
    The myth of “ registering as a lethal weapon “ or black belts needing to register with the state was started by crooked dojo owners simply ripping off their students. Their not all loyal and respectful .
  • Tom
    Jesse, it is always a pleasure reading your publications. From my first encounter with your work, when I read your brilliant article on the myths of the blackbelt to now, I really enjoy your articulate and astute insight. I practiced American Kenpo in the US starting in 1995 and a few years later (after school closed) I transitioned into ITF and WTF Taekwondo starting over at 10th Guep (humble pie served.). I still practice TKD today, now in Germany, and study Goju Ryu off to the side. I guess I love all styles of martial arts that I want to absorb the most knowledge possible. Soon I will be opening a school of my own and further hope to instill the love of the martial arts into future students, while promoting the traditions. Please continue to promote and love the arts as you have been. I have no doubt that you will my friend. Best wishes for you and may the roads rise up to meet you in your travels.
  • Al
    You made a lot of good points, but some of your arguments don't stand inspection. Based on global history it is not unreasonable to think that poor farmers had some sort of martial arts practice. It happened in other parts of the world. That said, it isn't likely that it was ever documented. In cultures where such things were mentioned by aristocratic martial artists, they don't go into detail. If I could travel back in time I would expect to find: whatever grappling was considered normal in their society for fun and ceremony, the use of items they were familiar with--tools used as weapons, the sharing of information amongst family and close friends, adaptations and adjustments given the political/social circumstances of the time. Regarding your argument about weapons in karate because it means 'empty hand": you, yourself, have stated that the name and kanji were modified for Japanese biases at the time of it being exported to Japan. Regardless of whether or not karate ever included weapons training, your argument is unsound.

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