SOCCER and KARATE: Histories
and Development Going in Different Directions
By Sensei P. McColl
The past World Cup has brought many interesting and exciting views
to the world stage. This observation maybe another view point, albeit
In the beginning the "keeper of the game" (soccer) was
England. They had taken their national pastime to all parts of their
colonial empire. While doing so they kept a strangle hold on who
could participate and how the rules were disseminated. For example
in India the local populace were only allowed to watch as the British
soldiers played. Was the game above them?
In Argentina the rules were only printed in English.
Change was imminent, as the British Empire was slowly loosing it
grip on the colonies. They began to allow more freedoms to the locals.
In one momentous occasion a local champion, bare footed, Indian
squad faced the top British regimental team. The on looking crowd
was dozens deep, no stadiums or big screens here. This facilitated
the use of pigeons to pass the games progress to those in the back,
strange but true!
The result was the first defeat of a British side! The significance
of this would become historical to scholars of this new worldwide
What in any way shape or form has this to do with karate? Please
be patient with me.
What happened in soccer over the next 50 or so years was the transfusion
of each individual country's spirit, culture and attitudes. The
game did not change, it evolved. It took on an Argentinean, Brazilian,
German, Japanese whatever country, national identity. The structure,
the basics, the rules, the fundamentals and the appearance remained
Karate has spread throughout the world but has remained inexplicably
tied to the Japanese national character. There may be a couple of
reasons for this:
1) the belief that the art requires a strict adherence to the Japanese
2) a reaction to the open, North American, eclectic version of karate
Whichever reason you choose it has its participants trying to think,
act, and become like the originators of the art. Yes imitation is
the highest form of flattery but all you become is a copy of the
original. I'm not suggesting we all rush out and try to reinvent
karate, as seems to happen all too often in the open concept dojos.
What I believe is that we maintain the precepts of the art; development
of the individual as a complete person physically, mentally and
spiritually, not just as a fighter.
So let us strive to maintain the fundamentals, proper stances,
good strong basics, and the practicing, analyzing and understanding
the traditional katas. Through this we will develop martial artists
who are "artists of life" throughout their lifetime. They
will have substance and an understanding of their art. This will
allow them to infuse their art with their own personality, (national,
spiritual and cultural), while at the same time evolving karate
The purpose in transposing these observations in to written word
is to allow my students to see my direction as their sensei. Any
offence taken or inferred is the responsibility of the reader. There
is far too much "dogma" already and hence I am not really
willing to debate this observation. If you agree with all or part,
great, if not, great. We as martial artists, should be concerned
with the growth and strengthening of karate, not changing it to
meet our own limitations.