Just some thoughts on the notion of what is “traditional” in traditional karate.
Although things are changing, if you were to ask what methods are a legitimate part in traditional karate, I think it would be fair to say that the vast majority would consider Roundhouse kick (mawashigeri) as traditional and as legitimate as it gets. Whereas throwing would largely be seen as “revisionism” or a modern bolt on.
Here’s the thing though, in Funakoshi’s book “Rentan Goshin Karate Jutsu” (1925) he shows a number of throws, and he lists fifteen “leg techniques”. Roundhouse kick is not among those fifteen. We see groin kick, knee to outer thigh, knee to inner thing, crescent kick, returning wave kick … but no roundhouse kick.
Roundhouse kick is still not there in Funakoshi’s 1930s book, “Karate-Do Kyohan”(“The Master Text”) … but it is added in the revised version of the book in the late 1950s.
So roundhouse kick came to karate late (post-1940s) and was not included in print by Funakoshi until 1958 (printed two years after he revised the book in 1956). However, the throws were there in his books from over three decades before. Throwing (and joint locking) has therefore been a documented part of karate for much longer than the “traditional” roundhouse kick.
It occurred to me that the time difference between “throws in print” and “roundhouse kick in print” is larger than the time difference between “roundhouse kick in print” and “Iain enters a dojo for the first time”! (I started training in the 1980s). Roundhouse kick is very NEW! It’s not traditional at all when compared to karate throwing.
Whichever way you cut it, Roundhouse is definitely a non-traditional “traditional” technique. It also shows just how quickly something can be thought of as being a fundamental part of karate.
The first ever UFC was in 1993. So let’s say that a karateka had seen Royce Gracie use BBJ at that time and decided to take some of that into their martial practise. That was 23 years ago. So, if we take roundhouse kick as a rough guide – i.e. not part of karate in 1935 (1st Kyohan) but part of karate in 1956 (revised Kyohan) – then that bit of BBJ should be considered as being as legitimate a part of karate as the roundhouse is within two years from now!
When we look at the assimilation of the roundhouse kick into karate, and see just how quickly it happened, and see just how fundamental and traditional the kick is now thought to be, we are forced to consider how the grappling of the past is much more traditional than some of the common strikes of today.
We also need to consider the assimilation process that has always been part of karate and ask what methods we need to be bringing in now for the “traditional karate” of the next generation.
As I say, just a few thoughts :-)
All the best,