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Sport Karate vs Traditional Karate


There is a fundamental difference between karate practiced as a sport, and traditional karate. Sport karate is ultimately practiced to win competitions. The aim of traditional karate is however a much more subtle one, and ultimately focuses on personal development as a goal.

It is the disciplining of the mind and body that results in this personal development, giving the experienced and committed practitioner control at will over his thoughts and deeds. At the same time his understanding, of his body, his thought and how both of these relate to the people and world around him, improves, and with that, his discretion and judgement. The accomplished karate-ka will thus be strong in mind and body, but his strength is tempered by a new understanding, enabling him to use this strength with wisdom.

This does not mean that there can be no competition in Traditional Karate. Shito – Ryu is a style that works well for competition as well as karate in the traditional aspects. Although not as flashy as many other styles the solid stances and strong techniques of Shito-Ryu often command the respect of even the most non traditional judges. Competition does offer the practitioner many challenges and opportunities in the road to self improvement. Perhaps the greatest challenge it offers is avoiding the considerable temptation to abandon the traditionalist ideal and aim of self improvement, for the essentially egotistical sport karate aims. It is not difficult to get caught up in winning trophies and competing for points. In the end the true karate-ka realizes that trophies are just pieces of plastic and points are merely numbers. It is what the spirit and heart learns and becomes that is important.

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