karate ni sente nashi

Discussion in 'Karate' started by EmptyHandGuy, Aug 26, 2017.

  1. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    I've always be told that karate ni sente nashi means there is no first attack in karate, which always seemed a bit strange to me. Now I've just finished watching Jesse Enkamps Karate Nerd in Okinawa on YouTube and at the start of episode 6 he comments on this (starts at 1:25).

    He translates it as there is no first attack against karate. Now this makes a lot more sense to me, as he says there will be times when you may need to strike first to defend yourself and your loved ones.
    Does this alternative interpretation/translation make sense to you or is he wrong in what he's saying?
  2. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    I'd imagine he is taking liberties there to crowbar his own ideological viewpoint into it.
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  3. Travess

    Travess The Welsh MAPper Supporter

    Not only does it make sense, it is pretty much what we teach - Not the "There is no surprising a Karate practitioner" nonesense, but the ideology, for us, that you do not 'attack' (instigate. seek out violence) first? Sure. But if violence is going to be an unavoidable outcome (i.e. All your 'soft skills' have been ineffective) then a first attack (pre-emptive strike) is by all means acceptable (and completely legal for that matter)

  4. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    I thought he was doing well until he came out with the mystic sixth sense you get if you train karate properly! As for the translation it made sense to me as I've always been told in the past that karate was the art of the people rather than the elite of Okinawa, the no first strike interpretation always seemed to me to be kind of a Bushido like quote that a samurai class would come out with, where as I doubt the ordinary people wouldn't subscribe to similar sentiment.
  5. VoidKarateka

    VoidKarateka Valued Member

    I lean with Kneerider's opinion on this one. Having met and spoke with Jesse at a couple of seminars over the past couple of years he does really try to advertise a very clean cut bud-like image of karate (that I don't really align with personally). He's a smart guy and a fantastic karateka but I think his reasoning for this phrase in particular is a well off (along with the majority of the karate world).

    Karate as much as it's touted as an 'art of the people' (the popular misconception is that it was passed down through farmers who used it protect themselves from samurai/other armed thugs) was really never so. You look at almost all the heads of most popular karate lineages and they were never poor men with no status. They were well educated and fairly well off (if not of a fair status) in Okinawa or Japan. Shotokan karate especially was created from Japan requiring it to align with its gendai budo values after the Second World War. The phrase 'karate ni sente nashi' is just one line of (what is in my opinion) the bastardisation of karate as a whole.
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  6. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Would you say that those who propelled karate into the mainstream were themselves not poor but that they came from a poor background, that they improved their status in society, I believe that they went into the teaching profession and used that as a way to get karate out there in the school system and then into mainland Japan?
  7. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    No, because the majority of them came from wealthy backgrounds and were essentially aristocracy.
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  8. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    Right! Think I need to brush up on my early karate history! Could anyone recommend some books or websites on early karate history and development?
  9. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    With regard to your OP. There is no first attack in Karate should really be interpreted as "(Good) Karateka don't make the first attack." That does not mean that they don't hit first, simply that any attack is a response to the behaviour/threat of others.

    In terms of history, you will get different slants from different groups. I have a brief overview on Shotokan for non MAists on one of my sites here, but you could do worse than using wikipedia to look up Sokon Matsumura, Anko Azato, (Anko Itosu), and Gichin Funakoshi if you are looking into Shotokan's early history. Funakoshi's Karate Do My Way Of Life, Karate Do Kyohan (get the '35 reprint ratherthan the '57 edition) and Karate Do Nyumon are informative reads. Trawling the net for stuff will also get you useful info, but I would not get take anything as 'fact'.
  10. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    Could always try goign to Okinawa. No better place to learn than to go to the orgins and ask people there. (same could apply to learning it) And then you can come back and say how useless it was them teaching you a few words in Japanese in western schools. XP
  11. Travess

    Travess The Welsh MAPper Supporter

    Yeah, that's what I was trying to say, just less succinctly.

  12. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    Wouldn't the simplest interpretation be "don't go around attacking people with karate"?

    i.e. if you're going to learn karate, don't pick fights with it!

    Most quotations I've heard from the early 20th Century pioneers of karate have interpreted it this way. It's not so much a guideline of how to apply karate in a fight, but a guideline of the standard of behaviour they expect if they agree to teach you karate.
  13. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    If you're interested in Shotokan history (as I think the OP is) then visiting Okinawa is less use than reading contemporary sources. A further complicating factor is the scarcity of Azato lineage styles and the fact that the Gusukuma lineage karate taught by Itosu to his students is more prevalent than Matsumura lineage that didn't come through Itosu. That doesn't mean that Itosu lineage isn't interesting, it's just something to bear in mind.

    As for going back to Okinawa to learn karate, or going back to Japan... the quality of karate elsewhere in the world is such that I would not give it a second thought. If you want top level sporting karate, you'd look to Europe. If you want top level applied karate for self defence (Shuri te lineages) then again there are better places to look than Okinawa. Neither of which are necessarily the same as any karate taught on Okinawa - but they are karate that works for its intended purpose.
  14. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    *mic drop*
  15. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    The only person to argue out of going to Japan. XP
  16. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

    I think I have the 57 edition of Karate Do Kyohan, what is the difference in the editions?

    I would love to and once the family is grown up and left home and I have the time to do so I really would like to visit Japan and Okinawa, though talking the wife into it is going to be the real problem!
  17. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    And probably the most qualified Karateka on these boards - you would be well advised to take heed
  18. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Though I've not been to Japan , I've done seminars with some of the top visiting Japanese teacher and I'd completely agree with John.
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  19. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    About 90% of the text is the same, it's the edited out 10% with references to grappling, striking the legs etc. that has been taken out, plus the 35 does not have a picture for every kata move and has Funakoshi demonstrating the kata. The feel of the text is very different - it's written for its time but still carries the echoes of the karate that it came from with the exhortation to include hard and soft, grappling and striking, to truly get to grips with the art and the kata. The 57 edition is written for a different audience.
  20. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    If you're going you need to really do your research in advance and have clear objectives. If you drop into someone's dojo, bear in mind you are just another student - albeit a transient one. So what you can expect is to get taught very basic level karate, and that's assuming that you find a good dojo with a reputable teacher. Nothing wrong with that, it's an experience, but it isn't likely to advance your understanding of karate any more than watching youtube videos of the same instructors. They might tweak a few things, but no more than you could do by training in seminars or watching videos and paying attention.

    The best reason to go is not to train, it's to visit some of the historical sights. Just don't expect to experience the same culture as pre war karate.
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