What's so great about karate?

Karate lovers, this is a serious question, not a troll or a spin.

In another thread, Sambist007 wrote, "Karate has become a blanket term in the west. You simply can not lump all schools together. Some teach crappy useless forms while others teach realistic self defense." Much as I'd like to believe this, I have about 3 years' experience with 3 different karate styles. As far as I can tell, karate is an inferior form of self-defense, fighting, and physical training -- inferior to other existing methods, I mean. Specifically:

  • Karate punching is weak at best, dangerous (to the puncher) at worst. There is a wider variety of punches, "chops", and "pokes" taught; but I personally have never seen them used effectively. I have come to believe that the "inside ridge hand to the neck" is likely to be useless in almost every realistic situation. On the other hand, regular old punching (often called something like "reverse punching" in the styles I took) simply is not very strong, because it's not taught with the mechanics that, say, boxing teaches you. "Well, that's because boxers punch too hard and you'll break your hand if you punch like that", you say? Okay, except that the karate styles I took insisted that you'd easily knock people out if you connected one of their sissy punches. I mean, it was just pathetic.

  • Blocks were fairly embarrassing. For example, I cannot imagine that any boxer with more than a year's training would be put off by a karate block. A simple combination would defeat the blocking effort. From what I can tell, simple boxing blocking technique with the forearms and fists is far more effective in a real situation. Slipping punches is even better most of the time, yet no karate style I took even bothered with slipping punches. (Maybe that's an "advanced technique" that only "black belts" learn? I suppose the lower belts just couldn't handle abosrbing that kind of sophisticated knowledge, that a boxer learns from his very first time in the gym?)

  • Kicks were most embarrassing of all. The brutal utility and simplicity of Thai kicks was totally missing, as was the style and technique of something like Taekwondo. In their place were kicks that (a) would be unlikely to connect unless you were literally standing still, and (b) unlikely to do any damage even if they connected.

  • Far worse than any of the above, "karate", whose very name means "empty-handed fighting", lacks any grappling whatsoever! What kind of FIGHTING or SELF-DEFENSE system refuses to engage its students in the basics of grappling, probably the most common and natural type of fighting?! I didn't really realize this void at the time, but in retrospect it's glaring.

So I'm a definite karate non-believer, but I'm not a hater (though I do have some harsh feelings toward the "schools" that sure did school me, though they didn't teach me anything useful in return or really give me anything except some absurdly expensive colored belts). It's easy to say "You tried the wrong schools", but that's not very convincing. One school, Fred Villari's, was surely a fraud, and I have nothing but derision for the chain. But the other two were much more reputable, based on Ed Parker's system and on Chuck Norris' system. (To be fair, I think the Norris system would become useful for advanced students, say brown- or black-belt. But that's a lot of training to gain basic self-defense capability. I also think they incorporated grappling in the early 90s, but I was long out of it by then.)

So how about it, karate folks? What is/are karate's redeeming quality/qualities? What's useful and good about karate that I couldn't get at an MMA gym, a good kickboxing place, or heck, even a quality taekwondo school?

Go to a kyokushin/seidokaikan/shidokan/shin-karate dojo, come back and please tell me how useless it is. Maybe it's useless for the most part in the USA where there are too many McDojo's teaching watered down crap in fear of being sued by a litigious(sp) society.

SILK beat me to it

"Go to a kyokushin/seidokaikan/shidokan/shin-karate dojo"

What's different about these styles of karate? Is there more sparring? Sorry, I don't know much about the different forms of karate. Also, is there any grappling in these styles?

KK Karate and its derivatives are pretty hardcore.

Shidokan bouts look like frickin' hockey fights except they also throw knees and kicks and both guys are wearing gis.

Depends on how it's taught, but for the most part, the way it's taught, and what's taught, is a joke.

kill with only one one punch, imo

Only one Judo club?

There must be more than that...have you checked the local Y's?

Airspeed is correct. We have one BJJ, 3 or 4 Judo, Karate and Kung fu and about 10-15 Karate schools.

And you know, that's why they WILL get some heat. the TMA guys on here admit there is a large percentage of schools who go for the dollar first and foremost - we know that and give them shit, quite rightly in my opinion.

I think some of the quick snap kicks either from the front or side can be effective, especially aimed at the knee joints. I've seen two people take shots in that joint and just fuckin' collapse, they're done.

stupid question imo.

Anyone who doesnt respect real karate is BJJ nuthugging. Sure there are a LOT of BS schools out there. the same will eventually happen to BJJ, it is just a matter of time.

There is this one instructor who promotes people to Blue Belt in BJJ while sailing the ocean on a beautiful Yaht!!!

The open ridge hand strike didn't work too badly for Keith Hackney against Manny Yarborough.

nothing is ...lol

I am not a student of Karate but as an MMA/BJJ instructor I can say
this. In TMA classes the students can set reasonable goals for
themselves while building confidence and having fun getting in shape.

IN BJJ most students will not even reach puple belt and that is only the
second belt! Students can get in shape in BJJ and MMA of course but
they have to risk serious injury and spend their first months getting
crushed by better students.


Karate with the jkd concepts and have a better karate

wowutapfast said it best.


karate in the 60's and 70's was more brutal and hard core in England. producing some awesome fighters who could do it for real. In the future there will be watered down BJJ and MMA clubs, no doubt about it.

"Anyone who doesnt respect real karate is BJJ nuthugging. Sure there are a LOT of BS schools out there. the same will eventually happen to BJJ, it is just a matter of time."

Absolutely correct. It is about the school, not the art. I have trained in Karate, Sambo, and currently, BJJ. All have something great to contribute, but not all schools teach/train effectively. Seperate the wheat from the chaff.

Let me rephrase the relevant questions (and please note, I did not mention BJJ one time in my original question writeup):

What's useful and good about karate that I couldn't get better in another fight/SD style?

That's what I'd really like to know the answer to. The punches? The kicks? The awareness? The whole combination that karate provides? The spiritual development from knowing your chi? Seriously, what part of karate makes it more worthwhile than studying something else? From what I can tell, with about three years' experience in karate and zero in TKD, I'd be a lot better off studying TKD for self-defense -- and the TKD schools around here readily admit they're not All That for self-defense. But at least they're honest and up-front about it. And at least you actually hit and get hit in TKD.