Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The myth of karate linage..?

Welcome to the Year of the Horse
I thought I'd begin the Chinese New Year with a look at linage in relation to karate, but I think the lady and her horse beat me to it....yes, they got the joke before I did. It looks to me like someone asked the lady: "As a traditional karateka, how far back can you trace your karate?", and what you see here is her reaction.

Is any karateka alive today training exactly as karateka practised in Okinawa at the turn of 20th century? I have no way of knowing for sure, but I wouldn't put money on it. Unlike Okinawan karate today, the past is a land beyond your reach, a place you can only speculate about, but never visit. Even when you peer at it through the lens of history, what you see is distorted by opinion and bias; human impurities in the looking glass that distort your view.

In truth, you can only trace your karate directly back to the people who taught you, and the time period that you were learning from them, after that...it's a bit like trying to work out where you were the day before you were conceived. Why is the idea of linage so important to so many karateka? Other than a relativity small number with an academic interest in karate's history, I believe many claims associated with linage reflect little more than an ego driven desire to appear greater in the eyes of others.

Where your karate came from is far less important than what you do with it!