Karate, the label, tends to be a catch all label for all uninitiated folks who try to understand it… in the beginning. This was the thinking in those early days and contributed greatly to many making the assumption that karate is merely a game one plays or a hobby one does.
Karate today still gets misunderstood because now they label it a martial art and I am here to say, “Karate IS NOT martial!”
Yes, karate is an art, if that is the concept of you mind as to the why of your practice. It is also a means of personal defense, not a combative or military means of doing battle. Until recently the military gave a hand wave and minimal attention to hand-to-hand training.
Karate, then and now, has never been included in Japanese martial disciplines and only came to social attention when it was introduced to Japan late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
In Okinawa it was used by royalty guards as a defensive, last resort, system in “bodyguarding,.”
It was, this is a big IF, used as a prerequisite to training in weaponry. Even early 1900’s, it was insinuated into the school systems to prepare youth for the military as a heath and FITNESS program. So much so, they REMOVED all the dangerous stuff and taught NO bunkai or defenses, just kata.
Heck, bunkai was not truly taught in karate here in the states until a few decades ago and we are all thankful that began and even if bunkai was taught it was a hand wave 👋 effort till now.
Even the creator of my system who studied the Chinese philosophical classic, who was a village fortune teller and seeming believed in this concept didn’t actually teach it but simply gave a gokui written on silk to a handful of Americans upon black belt and leaving the island assumed never to return.
Read more of my opinion on this subject here:
Ok, now that it is all said and done the glitch to this theory is this… if enough people believe and if enough people use the phrase martial art to label something like karate then the phrase changes. After all, terms and phrases also evolve… don’t they?