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Guest Post: Karate is Not Jujitsu

This Guest Post is by my good friend, Sensei Angel Lemus, of the Zentokukai Okinawa Shorinryu Toude Association. Angel is the creator of One Minute Bunkai. The URL is oneminutebunkai.com.  He and I are members of the Hawaii Karate Kenkyukai.

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Karate is Not Jujitsu

When I teach bunkai and see others practicing I have noticed one thing, it has to do with working bunkai, analyzing it, and the partner work which is a lot of fun but I think it is too easy for us (everyone in general) to forget one big really really important point:­ Karate is not Jujitsu.

Applications involve many things like tearing, breaking, locking, scissoring, blood/oxygen denial, and all this requires grabbing, holding and controlling, and all of it looks sort of like Jujitsu, not because Karate is imitating Jujitsu but because all "real" martial arts, Karate included, contain the same kinds of principles and applications.

So one can say that Karate is like Jujitsu, but one cannot say that Jujitsu is like Karate which brings me to my original point -- Karate is a highly evolved martial art containing grappling and controlling techniques, but what makes it unique is its Atemi­ striking aspects which are second to none. Karate masters of old for whatever reasons decided to focus on the thrusting (punching) and striking which evolved into many ways of using your fists and hands turning them into all kinds of destructive strikes. They devised the Okinawan Makiwara and became incredible hitting machines delivering destructive punches/strikes.

So when I see people working bunkai that starts off with a strike, and I see the "uke" (the person receiving the technique) resisting or trying to counterattack the grapple (later on), I tell myself that person does not "get it", he would not have the opportunity to be resisting because he should have been already knocked out unconscious, or his arm would be totally incapacitated, or his lower abdomen would have imploded causing total shutdown of his body from a toe kick, or he would have been blinded, or his leg would be torn or broken. There is no fighting back from this.

We have to remember that by the time a Karateka doing real Karate would be grabbing and controlling an opponent in order to apply some lock or break, it should be unnecessary to do so because the attacker should have no more fight left in him.  When I work bunkai I always try to incapacitate the opponent using Atemi, it is just so much easier. Of course I am a total advocate for studying bunkai and all the fancy stuff, but when it comes down to it, I will hit first whenever possible then see where things go from there. This is what I try to do in every One Minute Bunkai.

We have to remember that Karate has given us massive high caliber destructive impact weapons, let's always keep those as the primary arsenal before we move into other aspects like grappling.  If you call yourself a Karateka and you are mostly focusing on the grabby feely stuff then in my book, you are more of a Jujitsuka than a Karateka. Atemi defines Karate above other arts. My ideal scenario is to be totally awesome on both aspects of Karate applications, atemi and grappling (Tode).  If you are close to grabbing your opponent's arm then you should have 3 options, 1) totally incapacitate the arm with atemi, 2) bypass atemi and go straight into Tode (grappling), 3) my favorite, do both, start with atemi and then go into it but only if you feel it is necessary. And by this I mean if you hit your opponent so hard that his arm loses all life in it and has turns into a wet noodle, his fight is ended.

I can tell you from personal experience from years of my Sensei (Tim Rodgers) destroying my limbs, where the last thing in my mind was to continue, because I could not, because I was in so much pain.

Lets learn Bunkai, yes, but lets treat it like dessert, it comes after the meat and potatoes, and you cannot eat your dessert unless you clean your plate.