The problem with karate today, especially karate practiced in the United States, is that it is typically:
 no longer traditional,  no longer reality-based and  not easily transmitted.
Traditional Okinawan Karate? That’s a Clown question Bro!
The problem may just stem with the times; we have to compete against video games, reality TV and the many variations of what people consider martial arts.
Will someone PLEASE give Mr. Dos Santos a glass?
What makes Okinawa Kenpo, ‘Okinawa Kenpo?”
Don’t get me wrong- I love martial arts, mixed or otherwise. Just like some of my friends grew up as a “gym rat” there are those in the martial arts world we used to know as a ‘dojo bum’ or a ‘dojo rat.’ Of course, during the 1980s and the 1990s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles took over every martial arts school and the notion of a ‘dojo rat’ took on a whole other personae.
All I want is a latte! Nothing else! Now go punch some rocks!
People do martial arts for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost it is considered self defense or in an Okinawan Karate translation, it is known as the ‘life-protection’ arts. Karate, particularly Okinawan karate is the grandfather to all Asian martial arts that was introduced into the West- (the United States, the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the rest of the non-Asian world.) This was largely due to the military personnel, Soldiers, Sailors Marines and those in the Air Force, spread the martial arts when they came home from being stationed in the Far East, particularly in Okinawa. They were taught by great masters of an era that rose from the ashes of the Battle of Okinawa and World War II.
This is my Sensei, the late Seickichi Odo. (1926-2002)
I feel very spoiled. I grew up in a karate family. My mother and father were two of the noted martial artists to introduce Okinawan Karate “to the West.” (On the Discovery Channel they are cited in the “Vietnam Era” of ‘military history.’) They have had thousands of senior students- bonafide Yudansha (this means a student who has reached a rank of proficiency with a black belt). I have observed them teach their way through out military and civilian life. They have taught Marines, Seals, Recon, other ‘consultants’ for other government agencies with our own federal government and governments from abroad. They have also taught my friends and the ‘Den Mother’ when I was a Cub Scout troop. They have taught toddlers to high school students in South Texas from the late 1980s through the present.
This is my mom. She still teaches Okinawa Kenpo.
The problem with Okinawan Karate in general it was not an art that was built on commercialization or mass consumption. Okinawan Karate, particularly my style, Okinawa Kenpo- is a form of martial arts that is based on the direct transmission of teacher to student. The struggle to maintain this intimate and authentic connection with your sensei is extremely difficult to achieve at times. This is just the standard. The problem with Okinawa Kenpo is that it is one of the few karate styles that an enormous amount of kata (non-weapons) and kobudo (weapons) forms. This in of itself is a tremendous undertaking to master the entire system.
This is my father. He is loud and he carries a big stick.
All joking aside, Okinawa Kenpo 101 is practiced everyday. Throughout this series of posts, I will focus on the content of the ‘Old School’ of Okinawa Kenpo Karate Kobudo as taught to me by several Okinawan teachers, primarily the late Seikichi Odo, the late Siejiro Maehara and Hideo Henzan sensei. I also learned how to be a sensei (and a parent) from my own mother and father. Some say that karate has died and will never truly surface again- I think other wise. Okinawa Kenpo, ‘my family’s style’ will live on as long as we practice the art we teach.