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Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture
Funakoshi's Anxiety?

Hi all

I was going through Funakoshi's book “The Essence of Karate”. One sentence really caught my eye,

“As a child, I suffered from a very weak stomach until I started training in Karate…”

In the article I explore the possibility of Master Funakoshi suffering from anxiety.

What do you think? Is there more info about his illness?

shinaido.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/funakoshis-anxiety/

Kind regards 

Les

Tau
Tau's picture

Excellent observation. I took it literally, as in he had gastro-intestinal problems; couldn't keep food down, that sort of thing. 

But could it be metaphorical? Funakoshi was certainly a proven wordsmith.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi Les,

I doubt that theory. There is a theme with pretty much all the old masters claiming they were sick and weak in their youth prior to them taking up Karate. It is a kind of folklore that should serve as a kind of advertisement for Karate.

Regards Holger

P.S. The "book" - The Essence of Karate - is a translation by R.Berger of a text by Funakoshi named "Karate no Hanashi (空手の話)" - Stories or Tales of Karate. Maybe that is a hint with regards to the percentage of truth in that text. ;-)

Les Bubka
Les Bubka's picture

ky0han wrote:
I doubt that theory. There is a theme with pretty much all the old masters claiming they were sick and weak in their youth prior to them taking up Karate. It is a kind of folklore that should serve as a kind of advertisement for Karate.

Hi KyOhan,

I know that after translations all the meaning can be changed like in Chinese whispers :-)

I wrote that post as  I work with people who suffer with anxiety  and I have experience it on myself, that’s how I would explain to someone without going in to the details what I’m feeling when anxiety kicks in a weak stomach . In my case Karate did fix it through the years of building self-esteem and strength mental and physical.

I’m aware of this theory being stretch, but I felt that it was something to write and see people reaction. cool

It is interesting that some people find my lose theory upseting  to degree that they getting agresive. 

Tau

It is probably  metaphorical, but in my head thats how I would describe anxiety ;-)

Kind regards 

Les

PASmith
PASmith's picture

There is a theme with pretty much all the old masters claiming they were sick and weak in their youth prior to them taking up Karate.

Not just Karate either. The fact that Helio Gracie was weak is brought out to show how effective BJJ can be for people that are smaller or weaker. And then you see all the competition guys and they are jacked to the gills. :)

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

The “I was sickly child but look at me now!” narrative is definitely widespread. While, its central purpose is underlining the potential health benefits of training, one other reason we may see it so much is many of those stating it genuinely believe it to be true.

In my case, I was not that physically active as a child because no sports interested me … and then I found karate! The result is I trained a lot and the inevitable result is noticeable improvements in health and fitness. So, I too could say that I was a “unhealthy” child until I found karate.

Most of the claims of being “sickly” as a child are vague. There’s not claims of karate curing diseases and recognised illnesses, just assisting a vague sickliness.  

I also can’t help but think that some of the “recollection” of health improvements are just people growing up? Part of it could simply be the move from childhood, through our teenage years, to adulthood. “I feel stronger now than I was as a child” would seem to be an obvious observation.

It could indeed be that a training effect and growing up do indeed lead to people feeling fitter, stronger and healthier. This attribution of this to karate / martial arts leads to the widespread narrative.

Karate, unlike other physical activities, can also be something we do for our whole lives. Again, the continued training will have a positive effect on health. Rugby, for example, can only be player for so long, and then we need to stop as we age. It again understandable that aging karateka notice their better health when compared to others of the same age who are no longer as active.

I’m not saying karate is some panacea for all manner of health issues, but the positive effects of physical activity – which karate provides – are well attested to. It could be this that is leading to widespread “sickly child” narrative; in addition to the desire to “advertise” the art?

All the best,

Iain

Finlay
Finlay's picture

My hand has to go up as another "sickly" child who couldn't run from here to there without turning purple. Until I found the martial arts