Opinion of Karate in the Olympics

OPINION OF KARATE IN OLYMPICS

No Olympic karate

This is from an interview with Fumio Demura, Shito-Ryu karate practitioner, author, and actor from “Classic Fighting Arts” Magazine Vol. 2 No. 14. His comments are just so good that I have reproduced them here.

“I like the world karate championships, but I don’t like the Olympics. Why! Because so-called Olympic karate is not a martial art, and so it’s not karate, as I understand it. There is no ranking system, no teacher student relationship, no discipline, and no structure. Only the people who win receive attention – everyone else gets none. And even champions are soon discarded as the next batch of fast young kids come up to take their places. On the other hand, serious karate people, those who train for the world championships, tend to view competition only as an interesting diversion, and go back to serious training in the dojo after they finish competing.”

– Fumio Demura

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Only Learned the Outside

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Olympic Tae Kwon Do representative from Cuba, Ángel Matos, kicks the referee in the face out of anger prompting the World Taekwondo Federation to recommend he be banned for life for both himself and his unapologetic coach, Leudis Gonzalez.

OK, by now we have all heard of the disgusting and childish act of Angel Valodia Matos, a Cuban Tae Kwon Do athlete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics who kicked referee Chakir Chelbat from Sweden, in the face after Matos was disqualified during his men’s +80kg Bronze-medal match.  Matos was winning, 3-2, in the second round, when he fell to the mat after injuring his foot as a result of colliding with a knee by his opponent, Kazakhstan’s Arman Chilmanov. He remained there, awaiting medical attention, when he was disqualified for taking too much injury time. Fighters get a one minute “medical time out”, and Matos was disqualified when his time ran out.

The Cuban athlete lashed out at a the referee with a roundhouse kick to the face. The referee needed medical attention after the altercation, requiring stitches in a split lip. Matos walked off, spitting on the ring in disgust.

Matos won the gold medal in this division at the 2000 Sydney Games, dedicating the victory to his mother, who had died on the day of the opening ceremony. Also added another at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Yes, we all agree that it was over the top, and frankly I can’t think of strong enough words to tell you how disgusted I am by this act. It goes right to my core; in fact, it even makes me angry. Because I am confident that everybody on the planet feels the same, I really did not feel a comment was warranted (except Fidel Castro, the leader of Cuba who said Matos was justified in his kicking of the referee),.

However, here is something I will share with you: the response of Masa, the father of one of my students as well as a judoka, which put the event in the proverbial nutshell. When I told Masa about the kicking of a judge by a contestant he sat up straight, his face opening up into what you would call mild surprise, and said, “Oh, he doesn’t understand; he doesn’t know the inner meaning of arts.” He paused and added, “He only learn outside.”

So there it is, an ugly display in contradiction of Olympic and martial arts ethics all wrapped up in a tidy little package for you… “He only learned the outside.”

Dojo Kun

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DOJO KUN

(The School Principles of Shorinjiryu Kenkokan Karatedo) 

1- Maintain propriety, etiquette, dignity, and grace.

2- Gain self-understanding by tasting the true meaning of combat.

3- Search for pure principals of truth, justice, and beauty.

4- Exercise positive personality, that is to say – confidence, courage, and determination.

5- Always seek to develop the character further aiming towards perfection and complete harmony with creation.

The dojo kun is the five statements which are said at the end of the training session. They are like mottoes or declarations. They are beliefs. They are model ideals to aspire to. Some believe that they focus the individual to be a whole person, that they enhance the individual to become more than what he seems. Others may imply that the dojo kun is to teach you how to become the “ideal” karate person.

What typically happens is that at the end of the class the students line up in order of rank behind the teacher facing the front where the dojo kun hangs. The head student says, “seiza”, which in English means “sit in seiza”. “Seiza” is sitting on your knees with your feet under your backside. Some teachers tell the students that one big toe ought to be under the other big toe. The knees should be placed so that two fists side by side can fit between. Otherwise, if the knees are too close together, the seiza position looks too sissified. The head student then chants out each statement of the dojo kun and the students repeat each statement in chorus. After the last statement the head student says “mokuso” and everyone closes their eyes in concentration.When the moment of pause is finished the head student says, “mokuso yame”, which means “meditation finished”, and then “Sensei ni rei”, which means “bow to the teachers”. The students bow from the seiza position to the front line of insructors, and the teachers retirn the bow to the students.

The teachers turn to face the shomen and the head student then says, “Shomen ni rei”, which means “bow to the place of honour” and the teachers and student bow to the front of the classwhere there are pictures of the founder, flags, etc,..The teachers turn to face the students and the head student then says, “Otagai ni rei”, which means “bow to each other. The teachers and students bow to each other.It’s a nice finish to a tough workout. It quiets the spirit and calms the mind and maybe helps refocus the individual on why they go through this physical strain a few times a week.
The reason for chanting out the dojo kun in chorus has many purposes. It helps each person re-affirm the ideas and concepts of karate in their minds. It also may help develop the group as a whole, distinguishing them from others who do not train. This too is a nice feeling. It is one of camaraderie and collective dedication to a similar objective.

It is interesting to note, however, that the dojo kun is not always chanted out during each and every karate practice in dojos in Japan. The dojo kun is a set of principles and they are used to teach the philisophical foundations of this craft to youngsters. When there is an adult class training the dojo kun is not read aloud. Kids need instruction. Adults ought to know better.

Some karate folks feel that the dojo kun is holy writ, that we can’t talk about it, question it, discuss it, debate it, doubt it, or change it. But since the Holy Bible, the Koran, Buddhist Scriptures, are all open for discussion by scholars, theologians, holy men, and preachers; we should consider the dojo kun as equally fair game. So, let’s talk about it.

The dojo kun that we have in Japanese is a very earthy and common sense approach to what karate is and how it should serve humankind. Most of the dojo kun is associated with the individual’s identity. It encourages the individual to discover who they are.

It challenges the individual to remain truthful to what they know to be right and good. It pushes the individual to struggle from within to grow and to develop, to not hold back, and to discover secret talents and strengths within. It admonishes the individual to learn to live at peace with others.

And lastly, it tempers a rebellious spirit with calm thought and harnesses a powerful body with an equally powerful mind.