Great Events of Karate History.
Higher Dan can lower your credibility! 船越
IMPORTANT, Please READ:..
I was awarded 8th dan in 2009. The first 8th dan of Funakoshi Shotokan Karate Association under
Personally i felt i was too young to be a 8th dan, but i accepted the 8th Dan rank inorder to keep the organizational structure , i needed to think of the other Karateka in the organization that are older and showed loyalty to my father Kenneth Funakoshi and FSKA over the decades under the FSKA organization.
Last year 2018 (after the customary 9 year span), i was offered by my father to be 9th dan. This time i refused to accept the 9th dan promotion. I personally feel that i am too young to be a 9th dan (57 years old at the time) . Accepting the 9th dan will not only question the credibility of the whole organization and my own rank, but also my PERSONAL FEELING of being a 9th dan at such a young age. Being technically great as competitive champion in both Kata and Kumite of FSKA and oustside of FSKA,KAH,HKC, JKA Hawaii etc champion does not take the place of experience and knowledge gained thru years of Karate life (Karatedo).
Physical exhibition of technique and competitive Shotokan Karate is done thru physical and technical Dan Exams up to the 4th and 5th dan exams. From that point 6th dan and higher, Understanding Karate/Karatedo, Character, Dojo Kun, Organizational skills and many other "Karate" skills become a more important factor in determining Dan Rank . Even basic everyday life and family skills are factors...
Seeing so many young 9th and 10th dans under 50 years of age is very heartbreaking to me personally. An EXAMPLE: A Karateka can be the greatest Kumite and Kata champion ever but if they are proclaiming 10th dan at 35 years old, it ruins all the accomplishments they acheived .... Many Traditional Shotokan Karateka discredit other "Open" Styles proclaiming 10th,12th 16th dan,etc.. what is the difference of a Shotokan Karateka in their 40-50's 10th dan from the "open" styles? both lose credibility in my eyes.
This is just my personal Opinion about Funakoshi Karate. by Kevin Funakoshi Sensei 船越
Is the Modern Karate athlete really better?
In the PAST, The Karate athlete competed in individual Kata, individual Kumite, team Kata and team Kumite in a single Tournament..
1- The elite Karate competitors of the past would compete in Kata events INJURED from kumite practice before the competition.
2-The elite Kumite competitors of the past would compete in Kumite after doing up to 8 different Katas BEFORE even starting the Kumite events.
3-The elite Kata Team competitors of the past would have competed injured in the individual Kata competition , done up to 8 different Katas in the kata event, fought up to 9 times in the Kumite event... and only NOW Starts the team Kata event.
4-The elite Kumite Team of the past competitors would have competed injured in the individual Kata comptition, done up to 8 different Katas in the individual kata event, Fought up to 9 times in the individual Kumite event and done up to 4 different katas in the team Kata event BEFORE Participating in the Team Kumite competition......
5- we did all this in ONE Gi....
Modern Karate competitors, Try and do this if you can find a tournament with over 500 competitors IN YOUR DIVISION, NO WEIGHT divisions or age divisions... everyone in ONE DIVISION.... see if you think the modern Karate Competitor is actually better "athletes" then the Past Karate competitors.
by Funakoshi Sensei 船越
"ZANSHIN" : Being aware of your enemies and surroundings........ The difference between Traditional Competition Karate vs Sport competition Karate. In the past, Traditional Karateka needed to display "ZANSHIN" to be awarded a "ippon/waza ari". Modern Sport Karateka can be awarded a "ippon/waza ari" while falling, no eye contact and run away after a "ippon/waza ari" showing no "ZANSHIN". PICTURED is myself after scoring with a mawashi geri to the back and still attacking with a Jodan Oizuki with eye contact with my opponent "ZANSHIN"........ 2nd Picture is a Modern Karateka scoring a beautiful Mae Ure Mawashi geri, but has no eye contact and running away after displaying No "ZANSHIN"... What made Shotokan Karate famous was strong display of "ZANSHIN" during the early years of Karate..... Practice your "ZANSHIN".... , #karate #karatedo #budo #traditional #shotokan #karate#zanshin #funakoshi
JKA History: Did you know that the FIRST JKA Junior Black belts certified by JKA was from HAWAII(not Japan) under SHIHAN Kenneth FUNAKOSHI in the early 1970's. JKA Top examiner Miyata Sensei who trained under Yoshitaka Funakoshi(Gichin son) was suprised/shocked that young Kids could do all the techniques as good as the Adults during the dan exam. Sensei Miyata did not know what to do with the results, so he went back to Japan and discused the results with Nakayama Sensei. Miyata Sensei and Nakayama Sensei both decided to promote the Hawaii Kids to shodan but have the white stripe until the age of 16 years old. Another First for JKA out of Hawaii.
Reality vs Theory:
"Theory is great"
When competing in Hawaii Karate Congress open tournaments in the 1980's. Still being affiliated with JKA at the time, one of our more hardcore branch dojo JKA instructors was actually telling Shihan Funakoshi how easy it would be to beat the Hawaii Karate Congress competitors, This hardcore JKA instructor claimed he knew how to teach his students to beat the best in Hawaii(including me the top rated HKC fighter that year). So this instructor was going to prove it, he entered his top student in the black belt kumite division.
"Theory goes out the window"
Being from our dojo, i wanted to see our JKA dojo succeed against other styles and dojos also. Well, in the first round this hardcore instructors top student got "thrown" by a very high level Shito Ryu stylist and got his shoulder broken and lost the match on a ippon. END OF THAT THEORY.
To all Karateka, Kumite techniques may look easy and theories may seem to work on color belts and stationary "uke" in your own dojo. But when you compete on a high level, the competitors are very skilled,fast and strong with good understanding of "go no sen" and "sen no sen". Tournament experience lets a Karateka understand what actually "works" against a unwilling,dynamic and person trying to hit you back. WINNING a tournament is not the main objective, just entering and getting the experience teaches you more about "REALITY".
Here is one of my favorite events i have discussed with my Father and instructor Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi. "dad, what made you decide to take Karate?" .....
Here is a excerpt from Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi's "The Journey's and travels of Shihan Kenneth Funakoshi" which was always his answer to me at age 5 and till this day..
"I first heard about this Japanese champion from my kid brother. I wasn't impressed by Hirokazu Kanazawa at first and neither were the other boys who came down to watch. They left immediately, but I continued to stay because I was curious to find out what made this guy a champ. He didn't look tough and I thought he could be beaten by the kenpo boys. I thought that I was going to see a tough looking sensei beating up on all the students. I was surprised to see a kind speaking , ordinary man teaching a beginner's class. There was something very, very gentle about him, humble. The training looked very easy because after all, it was a beginner's class.
He introduced himself to me because I kept staring at him. He asked me if I had met him before and I told him this was the first time I had seen him. I kept watching him and ten minutes later he asked me again if we had met before. I told him no again, and then left after the class ended. I was puzzled by his humbleness so I came back to watch him teach every night for the next two weeks. Watching him was boring, he covered the basics over and over again. But he was real gentle with the students,kids, old people, husbands and wives, all white belts. He taught them real,real easy. One-two(like the way we teach) one-two(real slow), okay ,yame. I thought he was going to grind them next to the ground, 1000 push-ups, 1000 punches, all that stuff. But no, it was very easy training. So I was trying to figure it out - is this Karate? The rough stuff it's supposed to be?
He taught his students how to use their hips, how to stand and how to execute with timing. But what impressed me most was his humbleness. In the meantime, I visited other dojos of my Kenpo friends. I was already a shodan in both Judo and Kenpo and I knew it would mean starting at the beginning as a white belt but finally, I was curious enough about Kanazawa Sensei's style of teaching that I signed up for his beginner's class. It was a move I would never regret...."
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of these great Karate ,Martial Arts and life stories i have discussed over the last 50 years while training, driving,eating dinner and just talking story. Hope to share more with the Karate world in the future.