The Myth and Mystery of Karatedo

Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom. ~ Eugene O’Neill

In ancient times, Japanese martial art practitioners sought not only to develop their physical prowess but also to cultivate a strong mind and spirit. They believed that enduring physical hardships and testing their resolve in extreme conditions were integral to their personal growth and spiritual development.

One of the most well-known practices was the act of standing under near-freezing waterfalls, known as “misogi.” This practice involved immersing oneself in the icy water, often semi-naked, as a form of purification and a test of mental fortitude. By subjecting themselves to the harsh elements, martial artists aimed to transcend their physical limitations and gain a deeper understanding of their inner strength.

Today, while the practice of standing under waterfalls may not be as common, many martial artists still embrace the concept of cold water immersion as a means of enhancing their training and well-being. Some fill their bathtubs with ice, while others invest in specialized units designed to maintain a consistently cold temperature.

While the direct impact of cold water immersion on practical fighting abilities may vary from person to person, the underlying principles of physical conditioning, mental toughness, and resilience are considered valuable assets in martial arts training. It is believed that by pushing their bodies and minds to adapt to extreme conditions, martial artists can better prepare themselves for the challenges and demands of real-life combat scenarios. Sometimes a myth, creates reality.

Who had the greatest impact on developing modern Karatedo? The myth of Kakidamashi (empty hand duels) and reality of middle school teachers.

In the world of martial arts, Okinawa has gained a legendary reputation for producing exceptional fighters and skilled martial artists. Over the years, stories and myths have emerged, attributing the title of “the best in the world” to the fighting experts of Okinawa. While it is important to acknowledge the rich martial arts heritage of Okinawa, it is also essential to examine these claims with a balanced perspective.

Okinawa, a small island in Japan, has a unique martial arts history that dates back centuries. Due to various factors such as geographic location, political unrest, and the influence of neighbouring countries, Okinawa developed its own distinct martial arts systems, including Karate, Kobudo, and Tegumi. These martial arts were practiced by the local population as a means of self-defence and personal development.

The reputation of Okinawa’s martial artists grew during a time when the island was under the rule of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which maintained trade and cultural exchanges with China and other neighbouring countries. It is believed that Okinawan martial artists were exposed to various martial arts influences, including Chinese martial arts, which contributed to the development of their own unique styles.

During the early 20th century, Okinawan martial artists began to demonstrate their skills in front of a wider audience, both in Okinawa and on the Japanese mainland. This exposure led to the popularization of Okinawan martial arts and the emergence of renowned masters who became symbols of the island’s martial arts prowess.

While it is undeniable that Okinawan martial artists have made significant contributions to the development and spread of martial arts, it is important to remember that martial arts expertise is not limited to any one region or group of individuals. Martial arts skills are honed through years of dedicated practice, discipline, and a deep understanding of the principles and techniques.

The concept of being “the best in the world” is subjective and difficult to quantify. Martial arts is a vast and diverse discipline, encompassing various styles, techniques, and philosophies. Different martial arts systems excel in different aspects, such as striking, grappling, or weaponry. It is more accurate to appreciate the unique strengths and contributions of each martial arts tradition rather than trying to compare them on a universal scale.

As we delve into our study of martial arts, it is essential to approach it with an open mind, appreciating the rich history and cultural context of each style. By embracing the diversity of martial arts and seeking knowledge from various sources, we can gain a more comprehensive understanding of this ancient discipline.

A need to believe.

The question about why martial myths continue to persist despite the abundance of information and education is a thought-provoking one. Throughout history, myths and legends have played a significant role in shaping cultures, belief systems, and the way we perceive the world. While the availability of information and education has increased in recent times, myths continue to hold sway, because they provide emotional appeal.

Myths have a powerful emotional appeal that can outweigh logical reasoning. They tap into our desires, fears, and aspirations, offering a sense of wonder, inspiration, mystery or comfort. Myths can provide explanations for complex phenomena or offer simple solutions to complex problems, appealing to our innate need for certainty and understanding.

Chibariyo ~ C.Borkowski