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Posted by on in Karate

It’s over. You have been a member of a Karate club for years, and no one will listen to your recommendations about how to operate the club more effectively, the practice sessions are no longer fun, or the instructor has lost his enthusiasm for teaching. Maybe you witnessed or were involved in a dispute about contact or bullying, and you have lost confidence in your instructor to protect you or the other members. Something happened, whatever it was, that caused you to realize that it was time to quit this particular club.

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Posted by on in Karate

Interesting photo of Funakoshi Gichin thought to have been taken around 1925 at the Meisei-Juku Dojo in Tokyo.

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Posted by on in Karate

If you go to a college karate club in Japan filled with tough guys, you are going to hear them bark “Osu!” You are going to hear it a lot, in fact. They are expressing their cohesion, their sense of group togetherness, their closeness in age, and their masculinity. They are saying, “This is tough stuff and we can take it.”

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Posted by on in Karate

Since it is considered a rough, masculine expression in Japanese, saying “Osu!” to others opens the possibility that you will offend certain Japanese. When you say 押忍 (that’s how you write osu in Japanese) to Japanese be very careful to follow the appropriate usage. This will lower the chance you might offend someone. As an added bonus, you will be using the word in a more accurate imitation of Japanese karate culture. To succeed, an understanding of Japanese politeness will help, but not provide the complete picture.

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Posted by on in Karate

If you practice Shotokan Karate outside of Japan, your instructor probably expects you to learn a certain amount of Japanese. The list of required Japanese vocabulary usually includes the word 押忍 [osu]. Lots of people say “押忍!” when given instruction, when greeting one another, or when answering in the affirmative. But do they pronounce it properly?

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Posted by on in Karate

“押忍!” Where does this expression “osu!” come from, anyway? Why do the Japanese say that? What are the origins of the word. One person says it is short for “good morning,” and another says it means “Yes, sir!” Who is right?

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Posted by on in Karate

Before I went to train in Japan, I used to use “Osu!” to mean hello, goodbye, OK, hi there, come here, go there, look at me, do it this way, do you understand, and I understand. In my karate club, “Osu!” was our secret word that we learned in karate, and we said it to each other at the door, during class, on the phone, and at the mall. We over-used it. We over-used it with prejudice.

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Posted by on in Karate

A friend of mine wrote to me this morning asking me if I could recommend a good karate uniform. As I have explained before, I do not like karate uniforms.  I prefer not to wear one, as much as possible, because I find them uncomfortable and in need of continuous tucking, adjusting, and re-tying. I feel like while I am practicing, my clothes are falling off, and I am continually having to put them back on.

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Posted by on in Karate

You don’t know it yet, but you have been trained from a very young age to believe a lot of myths about the martial arts by watching movies and TV. You have learned quite a few facts which are not facts at all, but rather are completely false beliefs that the average person believes at such a deep level that they never think to question them. And when these beliefs are challenged, they feel an instant confidence in defying the challenge.

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Posted by on in Karate

b2ap3_thumbnail_karate-1.jpgOne of the parents in my neighborhood knows that I used to be a karate instructor. She told me the other day that her son was being bullied at school. Every now and then he was saying something unpleasant to someone, and then he would get tackled to the ground and pinned or hit a few times and come home with a black eye. She was very upset about it and wanted to know if I would teach her son karate to put a stop to it.

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