Hello all. This is my first post on this forum so I hope I don't infringe any rule and post on the correct place.
So, a little bit of background story to set things on the right path. It has been the purpose of all my studies every since becoming black belt in Shotokan a few years ago to understand why there are so many misunderstandings amongst all practioners from different styles, schools or dojo's and why there are so many different interpretations on the same topic. Recently I came to a few conclusions but I feel it's still a very premature idea.
Where I come from (Brazil) the focus of all our training has always been the sports/championship aspect, thus we've been practicing what now I see people describing as 3k karate. There has never been a incentive to study Kata applications, vital points, grappling, etc. The self defense aspect of karate has never ever been the focus of our training, and yet we always have had the feeling that we, as karate practioners, have the power to enter combat whenever and however needed. It's a silly and common mistake I see shared with my colleagues.
Truth is, even though we all know very well how to deliver a good punch/kick, we've never been instructed on the ways of self defense as kata teaches. What I have came to realizing is that this has never been a thing in my country ever since karate appeared. This made me question even more about why did the Masters which came from Japan to teach here had taught us this way in the first place. Was it a question of trying to make a living for themselves by focusing on the sports aspect of karate (which attracts much more students, specially teenagers) or possibly because they didn't have the correct instruction to pass on? I know for a fact that such as everything in life, nothing can be boiled down to a single and simple answer, which is why I decided to open this conversation with you all.
All this curiosity made me go after the roots of karate. I started to look at information online for different points of view on certain subjects, and them ended finding and reading some of Funakoshi's books - specially because I kept finding some of his quotes on Iain's articles and this triggered my curiosity even more - and came to some depressing conclusions that I want so share and see others opinions on the topic.
I am absolutely convinced that Master Funakoshi had been instructed well in the means of self defense in the way Kata teaches, otherwise he wouldn't 'train the three Tekki for almost 10 years' and that he would teach his students in the same way he was taught. What strikes me is to see some of his books teaching karate in a manner that much resembles the 3k type that we practice today. Specifically speaking, the book that shocked me was 'Karate Do Kyohan', which taught the defenses and attacks of the Kata as merely blocks and punchs, while we see that a punch can be a grab, a push, a jab, etc. like we see in some of Iain's applications.
This post is already very long, but please bear with me. I know karate had a complete overhaul in the 1900+ and many applications had to be left out of training and such. My point here is that I felt a bit discouraged to keep looking for more answers since the 'founder' of the style I practice had lead students to know only the surface level of karate and this had spread to all my teachers who think of karate as nothing more than punching and kicking. Who think that a Gedan Barai Uke can only be applied as a kick block and so on. What kind of evidence can I show to people that we are just 'playing in the branches of a big tree' if the one and only most revered Master by many, couldn't/can't show us the right way anymore?
I am struggling in my own club to show some different ideas since I am still Shodan and many of the teachers I talk to won't take a no as an answer. I was hoping to find some concrete evidence on books to fundament my arguments. I still keep on studying, searching and trying to be critic about everything I see/hear/read online, because there isn't a reliable source for me outside internet. And of course, the fact that almost none of my teachers will acknowledge anything that comes straight out of the internet.
I hope to see some opinions, advices possibly and if possible, see Iain's take on the matter, although I feel like I already know what his answers would be.
Thank you if you took your time to read through. I'm very sorry for any mistyping. Truly sorry if anyone get offended by anything said here.