The following article is written by my Guest Writer Gary Quinn the Author of the Karate Book, Total Karate Conversations with the modern masters. Have you ever thought about taking lessons in Karate? Did you ever consider Karate as an activity for your children? Are you already an experienced and dedicated student of Karate? Are you confused by the vast range of Karate styles in existence and the ways in which they differ?
If YES is the answer to any of these questions then perhaps you will enjoy Total Karate: Conversations with the Modern Masters, because it was written with you in mind.
The Start of my Total Karate Book Journey
As a youngster, I began training in Karate in Shotokan style. Like countless others new to the martial arts, I had no
idea that Karate existed in so many variations. As far I believed at that time, Karate was just one singular system taught and practised the same way everywhere. I had dreams of becoming a martial arts master one day.
I don’t mind admitting I’m still as far from realising that dream today as I was then. When I first became aware that Karate
was practised in an ever-growing number of variations, I was intrigued, but more often than not I was simply confused about what made each style different from the next. It was that intrigue and confusion that led me on the path to discovering more about this dynamic martial art system.
My Inspiration for the Total Karate book
Between November 2018 and September 2019, I had the pleasure and the privilege of interviewing more than forty of the world’s highest-ranked Sensei representing dozens of Karate systems. For anyone interested in beginning Karate training, or furthering their experience by cross-training between styles, I believe you will find this book an ideal guide to help you on your path.
If you have already practised it, you will already know about the wide-ranging benefits Karate brings. But if you have never set foot inside a Karate dojo (the traditional name for training venue) you may well ask why you should consider this art to begin your martial arts training. The answer to that question is pretty simple: There is arguably no martial art system more popular, widespread, or accessible, than Karate.
Such is its universal appeal, the term Karate is frequently but mistakenly used in a generic way to refer to all of the martial arts. Karate is not only a highly effective method of self-defence, it is also an excellent system for coordinating body and mind and improving physical condition through a form of study that builds good character and promotes many values and life skills. In comparison to many other forms of martial art, Karate is often considered relatively easier to learn. Its use of natural posture and alignment of the body also makes it suitable for students of every age. This may account for its enduring appeal and accessibility. Karate can be practised purely as an art, or as a sport, or simply for fitness or self-defence purposes. But for millions of devotees, Karate is a deeply philosophical practice.
Where Did it Start
First developed and refined in Okinawa, Karate grew from the roots of a combination of Chinese Kung Fu styles and native Okinawan fighting systems. Karate is widely regarded as a weapon-less form of martial art. The name itself is generally considered to mean empty hand when translated from the Japanese characters kara and te,
but training with weaponry becomes an intrinsic facet of many forms of Karate when one progresses to an advanced degree in training. However, true understanding of the meaning of Karate comes not from learning the fighting concepts, but through the cultivation of body and mind.
Self-development is the principal aim of Karate and it is bound by the concept of Budo, where the path or lifestyle you follow is deemed to be the most important aspect of training. As Gichin Funakoshi, widely regarded as the father of modern Karate explained, “The ultimate aim of the art of Karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”
In some ways, Karate training is a reflection of everyday life, in that it can sometimes be frustrating, difficult, or unpredictable. Through dedicated practice, students learn to surmount obstacles and setbacks, strengthening not just the body but the mind as well, in order to help them reach their full potential. It is expected that the lessons learned within the dojo should be applied to daily life.
In Karate, the ego is considered the true enemy that must be defeated. For truly devoted students, Karate is not only a form of self-defence training, it is more a way of life, based on principles of humility, self-control, courtesy, integrity, and respect for others, with the intention to avoid violence unless no other option is available. Karate students are taught from the very beginning to apply their skills only when faced with no other alternative. However,
if physically defending themselves or others is the only choice, Karate practitioners are trained to disable an aggressor quickly, using sharp forceful blows aimed at pressure-sensitive areas of the body of their attacker.
As students are taught to use their entire body to deliver effective strikes, physical size and strength are not prerequisites to begin Karate or progress through training. This is perhaps another reason why it is so suitable for people of every shape, size, and age. Through systematic and continuous training in the application of techniques and the use of breath control, students develop the ability to summon tremendous physical power, regardless of their own size and strength. But it is the ability to coordinate body and mind that makes a Karate student proficient.
Primarily a striking system, Karate teaches students defenses against attacks using powerful blocking techniques and/or evasive body movements combined with decisive counter-attacks using kicks, punches, knee and elbow strikes, and various blows delivered with open hands. Depending on the style, restraints, takedowns, and joint immobilization techniques are also utilised.
The study of Karate entails three core elements known as Kihon, Kata, and Kumite. As detailed in my karate book.
Kihon is the term that refers to learning the basic techniques, stances, strikes, blocks, etc.
Kata basically means forms. These are solo exercises performed against imaginary opponents, in which the student employs a pre-determined pattern of movements designed to simulate real-life combat situations. In essence, Kata is
similar to shadow-boxing, the purpose being to develop brain/limb coordination, improve speed, reaction timing, footwork, agility, balance, and precision in defence and attack. To the uninitiated, practising techniques against imaginary opponents may appear pointless, but it is through dedicated kata practice that students come to develop a full understanding of the art of Karate as it was originally designed.
Kumite is basically controlled sparring, allowing students to put their training into practice against an actual
opponent. This helps to develop reflexes, confidence, endurance, and the ability to use techniques in an improvised fashion. Kumite also helps students prepare for competition, should they wish to pursue that aspect of Karate.
Whenever someone considers joining a karate club for the first time, there is often a natural inclination is to gravitate towards what they assume to be, or have been advised is the ‘best’ style. In reality, there is no such thing. The concept of the best style really comes down to a matter of personal preference. Ideally, the most important approach should be simple to find a style that best fits you, according to your location, your budget, the club’s training schedule, your reasons for wanting to practice, and the intensity at which you wish to train.
The enormous range of derivative styles to choose from all contain many similarities and many differences in their approach to karate, but ultimately, they are all pathways leading towards the same eventual destination — self-improvement. Emphasis on Kumite and the number of katas practised will vary according to each individual style. Some of the most prominent styles found worldwide are Wado-Ryu, Kyokushin, Goju-Ryu, Kenpo, Shito-Ryu, and the most practised style of all, Shotokan. Regardless of your chosen system, Karate training provides an effective means of self-defence that can last a lifetime and offers immeasurable benefits beyond the dojo.
At some point in their training, every karate student is likely to hear the phrase “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.” Mastering any form of martial art requires time, dedication, and persistence, but the rewards along the way make all the effort worthwhile. Karate provides us with more than just a means of defending ourselves or improving our physical health. It offers us a pathway to personal growth in every aspect of our lives.
The men and women interviewed in this book are prime examples of these life-changing benefits of Karate. They have devoted the majority of their lives to practising, studying, preserving, promoting, and teaching the art of Karate. Some interviewees comfortably embraced the process and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to share their observations and ideas, providing superbly detailed responses to questions. Understandably, others were perhaps less comfortable in the spotlight and answered questions more succinctly. Not surprisingly, their views are sometimes as diverse as the systems they teach. Nevertheless, they have all earned their place among an elite class of instructors in their chosen styles, through many years of committed training and teaching.
Although they represent a wide variety of distinct systems and viewpoints, they all share something in common; they have a deep and intuitive understanding of the commitment that practice requires, and the anxieties and setbacks that every student experiences, because there was a time when they were beginners too, and they have all experienced and overcome adversity, disappointments, obstacles, frustrations and fears on their journey. Within those interviews, hopefully, you will find words of inspiration, guidance, reassurance, and motivation, to help you navigate yours. By following the example they have set, perhaps one day you will join the ranks of these modern Karate masters. The Karate book below:
Covering every aspect of Karate training and packed with details about the vast range of styles from around the world, from the mainstream arts to lesser-known regional systems, this is the perfect companion to Karate
training at all levels. Containing indispensable training advice, wisdom, insights, fascinating personal histories and anecdotes, all captured in exclusive in-depth interviews with more than forty of the world’s most respected modern masters, including Jesse Enkamp, Iain Abernethy, Karin Prinsloo, Takayuki Kubota, and Scott Langley, Total
Karate: Conversations with the Modern Masters is ideal for all karate enthusiasts, from complete beginners to life-long students.
Thank you, Gary Quinn, for the above article, it`s a pleasure to have you write this article for my website, You have truly had an amazing life with regard to Karate and the experience you have acquired is incredible. This article has captured the essence of karate. This article is inspiring and educational and I am sure it will encourage new Karate students to take up this effective system of self-defence and sport. New students will appreciate the insight into Karate training and what is required from an expert like yourself.
The karate book above (total karate) is ideal for beginners to lifelong students of Karate, covering the different styles and training levels. You have taken the time to cover the history and wisdom of karate. The karate book has over forty interviews with the most current modern masters of Karate, this is a great book, essential reading for anyone involved in Karate.
Great karate book,