JUST WHAT IS KARATE, AND WHAT, SPECIFICALLY, IS KWF KARATE?
During his youth, KWF founder Sensei Mikio Yahara was introduced to Karate when his father took him to a Karate tournament in Ehime, Japan. Inspired, Yahara Sensei set out on a lifelong journey, searching for the roots of Karate, studying under Japan’s great Shotokan Karate masters, carefully testing the key insights of each, winning numerous matches and championships, and always striving to answer the basic question of what is Karate.
Yahara Sensei synthesized his learning’s via the establishment of a truly authentic school of Shotokan Karate, which he named Karatenomichi World Federation (KWF). “Karatenomichi” means the “Way of Karate”. Indeed, KWF Karate is the sum of Yahara Sensei’s journey, which ultimately led back to the original principals of the Way of Karate, and is the root from which KWF Karate has grown and the bedrock on which KWF Karate has been built the world over.
Specifically, KWF Karate traces its origins to the Japanese traditions of Bushido, for “Samurai Code of Chivalry”, or Bujutsu, “Martial Art”. KWF Karate preserves these traditions, adapting them so practitioners can better cope with the rigors of our busy and often pressure filled 21st century lives.
Exactly what has been adapted? For one thing, KWF Karate fundamentally differs from the so-called full-contact fighting sports, including boxing, mixed martial arts, sport karate, or other similar sports. KWF Karate is not a full-contact fighting sport: All strikes are carefully controlled (punches are “pulled”, so to speak) because not doing so would be devastating to the opponent. How can this be?
In point of fact, the essence of KWF Karate is captured in classical Japanese Bushido expressions. The core concept is “Ichigeki, hissatsu”, most aptly translated as “One overpowering strike”, begging the question of how one can accomplish this.
Another key concept is “Niku wo kirasete, hone wo kiru”, referring to being willing in spirit to accept a glancing blow so as to decisively overpower the opponent. In other words, the KWF practitioner strives to skilfully deliver the perfect or ideal strike even under the most intense pressure.
These expressions are best understood as metaphors that describe how to master the full potential of mind and body that the truly peaceful spirit of KWF Karate first harnesses, and then so powerfully releases.
While such statements are often made about Karate and appear in countless movies that reference the martial arts, putting the real spirit of the art of Karate into practice is a lifelong undertaking.
How do we bring the full capabilities of the body and spirit to bear? Anatomically and physiologically speaking, KWF Karate utilizes highly-calibrated Open and Closed Kinetic Chain movements that produce peak performance.
Breaking matters down further, KWF Karate techniques utilize the core muscles (hip rotation), compression (cocking of legs and arms), and centrifugal force (full body rotation). Yahara Sensei has contributed to the repertoire of Shotokan Karate by developing a new Kata (set of pre-determined movements), called Heian 6-Dan, which puts these techniques into practice.
At advanced levels, such as during Kumite (sparring), KWF practitioners come to appreciate a “Flow Experience”, sometimes called “Being in the Zone”. Flow Experience refers to the sense of mastery that occurs when the highly-skilled practitioner executes a very challenging undertaking. Sixteenth century Japanese sword master Miyamoto Musashi seems to have been describing the Flow Experience when he wrote, “When you appreciate the power of nature, knowing the rhythm of any situation, you will be able to hit the enemy naturally and strike naturally. All this is the Way of the Void.”
As they seek proficiency in KWF Karate, KWF practitioners achieve a personal growth in terms of enhanced confidence, energy, and decorum, all well suited to the journey of life.
Putting KWF Karate into words is rather like a futile attempt to describe on the written page the beauty of a ballet dancer’s movements. To appreciate the ineffable art of either discipline, one needs to watch attentively, or as regards the matter at hand, undertake the rewarding journey of a lifetime to master KWF Karate for oneself.