Guest Columnists - Differences between Styles

Can anyone explain the distinctions between the different styles of Karate? I have come across Shotokan, Shoto-Kai, Shuko-Kai, Goju Ryu, Ishin-Ryu, Wado Ryu etc.. Are they all that different, and if so, why?

Make no mistake, they ARE different.

The principles and concepts they all adhere to are the only things that bind them together as a package of styles. Similarity in styles is a consequence of the similarity to the principles and concepts they seek to achieve by all too often repetitious endeavour. Which after a while becomes altered to fit the pattern of event. Prescribed principle and prescribed concept in a quasi surreal situation and environment leads to unrealistic systemisation with differing emphasis's. Each style is therefore different to the others.

Obviously the origins of styles gives a more accurate account of their perspectives, which can be seen through the teaching and tradition of its founders and followers alike, if you have studied concepts and principles over styles. If you haven't, it will be difficult to understand the differences. Observations on emphases within techniques and applications are good indicators as to the overall differences. Most styles with a competitive agenda have an embellished and over pronounced criterion that is subject to an observed opinion i.e. Judge or Referee, which almost always reflects in the grading syllabus, trend and tendency of that style. Different emphasis, different objective, different in personification to a similar style.

The strictly combative or tactile effective self defence styles are usually obscure in technique formality because of the range and diversity of the participant's abilities, strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps not as recognisable to many without experience and insight to the objective and circumstances of techniques used. However the effect should be the same. If you were to combine competitive with combativeness ........ all is lost and subject to different interpretations of said principles and concepts.

Take any of the styles you mentioned, look at them on You Tube, you can see the difference generally. Each exponent is different generally, apart from the clone syndrome effect often seen in the sporting or grading arena.

If any technique taken from any system or style, if practiced and performed by 10 different sized and shaped students were to look the same, the conclusion would have to be that the prescribed form is too rigidly adhered to. Which we know can only be for affect and not effect. Also the effort would have to be different for each person because of the dynamics involved. It would have to be different.

If you practice a style over the natural tendency of your own skill and ability to achieve a prescribed effect, you will be working against two principles and two concepts. The preparation and stimulus alone would be different for each of us given a similar task, depending on the circumstances. The circumstances dictate the means not by the means dictating to the circumstances.

Alan Platt, 6th Dan.

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