What’s in a term

Traditional Karate

If you’re a Karate Mom or Dad, a student, instructor or a friend of a friend in the martial arts you’ve probably heard the term “traditional karate”. What is traditional karate anyway? Is it like a traditional holiday that’s passed down through time, traditional wedding practices, traditional IRA or traditional education? Was there a particular “custom” that someone or a group started a long time ago that became tradition? If so, who’s tradition was chosen to be considered “traditional” and who made that decision?

You’ll probably agree that it must be important, have merit or at least bear some sort of value because that term is peppered everywhere on the internet, in magazines and books where martial arts and karate are mentioned. How can you be sure that each time you hear it, read it or see it, that the matter it’s attached to or referring to is worthy of the status “traditional”?

Some martial arts schools own their “non-traditional” status – those schools are straight up honest about being a self-defense, martial arts fighting and oftentimes fitness schools. I applaud them and respect them for teaching what they do and owning what they do while being proud and honest with themselves and to their patrons and students. Will their students learn how to defend themselves, very likely yes; will the they work hard, absolutely; will they get advanced in rank, most often yes; will they be proud and gain self-confidence, certainly.

So why then is the term “Traditional” karate so often used by so many schools? Why not just say that you teach karate, or you take karate or practice martial arts, rather than traditional karate?

What’s so special about traditional

Generally, when we think of something traditional, we feel something. It’s more than just a term or a thought, it often elicits unconscious an emotion that can bring about the feeling of comfort, security and esteemed principle.

When friends and families get together during the holidays, they often have traditions that everyone can assume will take place. Some traditions are welcome and are anticipated w