by Sensei Neil Prime
I have been asked many time about teaching weapons in our Karate classes but continue not to do so.
My first very strong belief about weapons is that children should not be taught how to use them.
Even though I see the students in our club as in good moral character, it is a fact that people in general and children especially, are very impressionable. I feel that they should be impressed with other more positive stimulants.
Kids can get into trouble no matter how hard they try not to. There is always going to be a bully at school and even though we preach to avoid that bully, sometimes you can't.
If a child was taught to use a jo (a short stick) or a tonfa (police baton) in karate class and was put into a self defense situation there is now potential risk that the child would grab a stick or pipe or anything that resembles that weapon to try to avoid a confrontation. Once the weapon has been picked up there is intent. If that weapon is used, very serious consequences will coincide. Even if the child did not learn to use a weapon and has no karate training there will still be negative ramification. There will be even more when they find out that they have been taught how to use a weapon.
In karate you can spend a lifetime trying to perfect your form and technique. It is a mind set that has to be expressed clearly and understood. In a previous newsletter article by Sensei Mitch Orr it was his opinion that cross training in the Martial Arts is an excellent idea HOWEVER, you must first have a strong basic foundation of ONE style. This means you should at least prove to yourself that you can first earn your black belt in that style.
I agree with his statements 100%. Sensei Mitch has had the opportunity to practice various styles of Martial Arts and he is talking from experience.
Weapons, if utilized correctly are a mere extension of your karate. You must learn to block as well as to strike. You must learn footwork and body shifting just as you would with empty hands.
How many of us feel that we are so proficient in these skills that we can start adding other factors in to complicate issues.
I am not against learning to use weapons if all the right factors are in place, which includes full mental capability. What I do disagree with is a karate instructor teaching weapons to provide stimulus - just to break the boredom of practising the basic blocks and punches that are associated with everyday learning of karate.
When you think of what there is to learn within one basic martial art it can be over-whelming.
It will take more than a couple of months alone just to learn how to execute a proper punch let alone learn various footwork drills, speeds drills, adding power into the techniques, blocking, striking, balance and posture, kicking, moving, avoidance techniques, etc. etc. etc. not forgetting that once you can grasp the concept of doing the techniques, you have to be able to use them. Without that, how can you expect to build confidence in the technique and ultimately yourself?!?
I feel it is much more important to focus on building confidence, discipline and character than it is to water down the very basics of what karate is.
I have been trying to grasp what is available in Wado Kai for 20 years now and I've toyed with weapons in my passing, but I think grappling would be a more complimentary attribute to my karate training... and I can't even find the time to do that.
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