Ryukyu Martial Arts Research 琉球武道研究

Karate, Close-Combat and between

Karate, Close-Combat and between / by Itzik Cohen
Examining the subject: "Karate, bare hands face-to-face combat and self-defence," we must address some basic parameters:
The purpose of the activity, working environment, professionalism and skills of the involved, the nature of posed danger and the nature of the attacker.

Purpose of activity
The purpose of the activity varies from different environments and specific cases. The activity may be initiated for policing or security and even offensive purposes in a military framework. The activity can be defensive in a civil framework such as self-defence. The environment, the goal and the level of risk also determine the power level and potential of causing damage. For example, the reaction to an attacker's slap or aggressive push will be different in its intensity and potential damage from reacting in a life-threatening situation such as an attack with a stick towards the head or a knife. Usually the goals are different in official activity such as military, police force, security of personalities, security of sensitive installations, than individual activity such as self-defence for a young girl or perhaps a guard at the entrance to a discotheque.

Work Environment
There is a strong affinity between environment and purpose of the activity. Is it a dense work environment such as a discotheque or a large number of people? Will we work in large teams, a small team or at the individual level? Is the environment familiar to us? Will we be alone? Consider two cases of a young woman who comes to a basic self-defence course without prior knowledge. One wants to acquire self-confidence and basic competence in the environment of its urban home. The other plans an eight-month mountain trek alone in South America with a large bag on her back. Of course, there is much in common in both cases, but in a short basic course it is worthwhile and even essential to get the best out, so there will be a difference in preparation in both cases.

Professionalism and Skills
There are some parameters such as personalization, physical and mental preparation. Scope of knowledge. Experience in the field. The amount and level of training. On one pole of the scale the professionals whose primary purpose is in an orderly and long-term framework and at the highest professional level, such as personal security. On other pole of the scale is a citizen who is interested in a basic, one-time, short-term course. There is also a difference on an individual base e.g. physical and mental capabilities.

The nature of the posed danger
There is a fundamental difference between the beginning of an easy situation and the danger of life, even though an easy conventional scenario can quickly turn into a violent extreme situation. In the civilian environment, for example, the attacker's character and purpose are usually different from a violent threat on man than on a woman. The background is different, the intention is different, the attacker's profile is different, and the attack modus operand is different. In most cases man will attack other man differently than he will attack woman. It is important to note that there are cases in which this difference does not exist and unfortunately as our environment is more violent the difference becomes smaller. An exception or typical examples of lack of difference in nature of attacks are cases of terrorism.
It is also important to note that different cultural frameworks adopt different behavioural norms. In some societies the violent outburst is rare and a result of personal nature, while in other societies, violence is a built-in norm and even carries “social value”. In some societies the use of cold weapons such as a knife is rare, while in others it is acceptable and common. There are also characteristics of various assault tools, such as the use of a dagger with a short sharp blade on either side or a knife with a longer blade honed on one side only. The type of assault also changes, in some places the common stabbing is from bottom up, in other places it is from the top downwards and in another environment slashes also used.

The nature of the enemy / attacker
The attacker’s nature is also a significant component. Is the attacker professional such as an assassin, or maybe a terrorist, a street thug, hooligan, is it on sexual background is he drunk or drugged attacker, a thief who encounters unexpected resistance. Is it policing force mission or guards that preventing a violent outbreak in a discotheque. The examples are many.

Each of these incidents requires different approach, different techniques at different levels, different physical preparation, different mental preparation, and sometimes different use of accessories. The challenges may be similar or completely different. Of course there is much in common but to prepare a particular person or group for a specific purpose in a particular work environment, we must consider all these parameters and prepare an efficient work plan as required.

Finally we will clarify an important fact that we mentioned above.
The nature of the attack or the way the attack is carried out varies among different environments. Therefore not everything that is true in specific environment will be correct for another environment. Added another layer to it and said that not everything that is true to a certain person will be true for another person.
1. Choose the best activity frame.
2. The activity should be adapted to the individual as much as possible.

After briefly and succinctly covering the subject of face-to-face combat / self-defence, we will move on to Karate.
Karate was born out of the need of face-to-face combat, bare-handed or facing weapons. This is an historic fact.
Ancient Karate that is Ryukyu-di 琉球 手 developed in official environment by skilled professionals for security needs in various environments and facing diverse threats.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Ryukyu-di era ended and Karate migrated to a limited civilian environment in Okinawa, where it was adapted to the new environment and to the people who developed and used it. At this stage Karate received characteristics of civilian combat and self-defence.
A short time later, the civilian circle expanded, Karate stepped into the education system in Okinawa, reached Mainland Japan and spread throughout the globe. This point is noteworthy for several reasons.
The introduction of Karate to the education system required significant changes, such as adapting to a large number of unskilled practitioners, often in big groups. One of the steps taken was simplifying the material studied because the unexperienced practitioners. Karate was no longer aimed for professional combat.
Karate has undergone a harmful combat transformation to preserve tradition and strengthen physically and mentally.
Karate was influenced by the heavy Japanese social portability process that Okinawan society underwent in all areas.
Karate began to take on a competitive character and became part of the successful sport both in Kata and Kumite.
Later Western society also added its share and Karate developed athletic branches such as jumps, high kicks and new movement patterns.

And with all the above, Okinawan Karate is aimed at precision and production of power. Learning and practicing Karate in a pragmatic approach, and if also directed as combat mean, makes Karate an effective and efficient self-defence tool. Everyone chooses his/her path, tradition, holistic, sport, self-defence and even therapeutic aims e.g. Motor issues, ADD/ADHD, social skills and more.
Although there are no historical records about Ryukyu-di techniques, it is possible to trace its character. In order to do so we should deeply know its heritage, history, culture and geopolitical environment, as well as the pragmatic needs from which Ryukyu-di stemmed and developed. The Karate nucleus is a practical at technical level, power development and in the physical and mental abilities of the practitioner. Providing it to skilled professional hands, it becomes powerful self-defence tool as well. It is precisely the wealth, precision and details that are not always visible and provide to Okinawan Karate its power.

Itzik Cohen

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