We highly recommend this free audio book by Iain Abernethy entitled, “The Martial Map.” It’s an hour long and may take a couple few commutes to get through, but well worth the listen. May it assist in helping you define your training goals and to understand that others may be training for other reasons – and that that is OK. Furthermore, for anyone teaching this should be defined for your students so as to avert any misunderstood expectations.
At Ravenswood Dojo we are pretty up front and clear that we practice karatedo as a budo. While self-defense is an aspect of what we do, if you are looking strictly for self-defense we suggest you sign up for a personal self-protection class. Also, do not come to us expecting to emerge a better fighter. Elements of what we do may be utilized for self-defense and hand-to-hand combat, but ultimately the direction our dojo takes is that of a discipline for community and character development as well as the pursuit of a sociocultural art form for its own sake.
Much like painting, it’s so much more direct and effective to take a photo or video than painstakingly mix and brush paint onto a canvas to enact a portrait. But there is an art, a discipline, a meditation, and a personal expression to painted portraits that greatly contributes to humanity and society. Portrait painting as a trade essentially died with the advent of photography (courtroom artists being an exception), at which point it transitioned to an applied and fine art. Learning how to brush a canvas today has nothing to do with the trades of commercial and industrial painting, though elements of tools and color theory may overlap; in art school you will not learn how to effectively paint machinery, automobile panels, a house, or office walls for employment security. This does not, however, make the fine art of painting useless or obsolete.
Again, while our practice as a martial art touches on self-protection and principles of fighting, there are anachronistic sociocultural elements of what we do that have no real bearing on everyday life here in modern society – and particularly modern Western society. In fact, this odd thing we do may often make us look plain weird in the eyes of the general public. And that’s OK too. There’s room enough in the world for all us misfits. While we take our practice seriously, we definitely try not to take ourselves too seriously. Heck, how can we take ourselves too seriously when with our white keikogi and black belts we look like human onigiri?
Jokes aside, Abernethy is a world-renowned British karate & combatives instructor, known for his reverse engineering of karate kata for practical application and flow drills. His separation and definitions of Self-Protection vs. Martial Arts vs. Fighting in this audio book is well researched and thought out. Check out his extensive array of additional publications, videos, and blogs online for a wealth of karate-related observations.