The transcript below is from the video “How BOXING Destroyed KARATE 🥊🥋” by Jesse Enkamp.

Jesse Enkamp:

Karate is supposed to be a complete martial art, including grappling weapons, joint locks, take downs groundwork, you name it. But if you look at modern karate, it seems to be mostly punches and kicks. In today’s video, you will learn the historical reason why modern karate is incomplete when you compare it to its original form. And the reason is because boxing destroyed karate. This story might blow your mind. Check it out.

Jesse Enkamp:

It’s 1921 July, New Jersey. The Fight of the century is about to take place between Jack Dempsey, the American bad boy, and George Carpentier, the French war hero or as they probably say, in French ‘Carpentier’. This was the world’s biggest boxing fight ever. In fact, it was the first one with a million dollar gate. Spectators came from all across the country to watch this iconic clash. And the result was a fourth round knockout that sent shockwaves throughout the world. This fight was so spectacular that it was actually shown in cinemas in Japan, when the news about the super fight hit the Japanese consciousness. Everybody wanted to learn boxing. The only problem was they didn’t even have any martial art that was close to boxing. You see World War One was officially over now in Japan’s economic bubble was exploding. So to keep people from thinking about the imminent post war recession, this was the perfect opportunity to provide the people with something new and exciting and entertaining. The Japanese rulers were desperate for finding something that was similar to boxing. And as it turns out, they may already have found the answer on a tiny island south of Japan known as okay now.

Jesse Enkamp:

The exact same here as the super fight went down in America, Crown Prince Hirohito in Japan was visiting Okinawa on his way to Europe. And this was a big deal to the Okinawan’s. 600,000 locals showed up to greet the Crown Prince, as he was treated to a magnificent display of the local culture, including traditional Okinawa dancing, music, and karate. The Crown Prince was mesmerized by this martial art had never seen before. You see this was completely different from the regular Japanese martial arts, Judo and Jujutsu was mainly grappling and throwing or weapons like Kenjutsu or Kendo. This was the answer the Japanese had been looking for. It had even something that looked like shadowboxing a.k.a“Kata”, but he was even better than boxing because it actually had kicks too. And they didn’t have any rules, you could hit the whole body, and he didn’t even need to wear gloves. It was a superior form of boxing, exactly what the Japanese rulers wanted at this time. Shortly after this demonstration in Okinawa, the Japanese decided to invite the leader of that group so that he could come to Tokyo, give a little lecture and introduce karate. The leader of that demonstration in Okinawa was a man who called himself shorter, but his full name was Gichin Funakoshi. And he would become the chosen one. You see not only had he practiced karate since he was 12 or 13. But he also spoke fluent Japanese, which a lot of Okinawan’s didn’t do. And he was educated. He was actually a school teacher, he was the perfect poster boy for Japan’s own version of boxing.

Jesse Enkamp:

So in 1922, Funakoshi went to Tokyo to introduce karate, he was only supposed to stay a couple of days, but he ended up staying for the rest of his life, because the Japanese loved what they heard. And they wanted Funakoshi to introduce karate to many more places around the country, give more lectures and write articles and publish books. And he did all of that. But in this process, they destroyed karate. Remember how I told you in the beginning of this video that karate was a complete martial art that included weapons and grappling and joint locks and takedowns and so on? Well, the Japanese didn’t want all of that. They just wanted the striking. And this actually upset some of the other Okinawans who came after Funakoshi like Mabuni Kenwa, who said this, the karate that has been introduced to Tokyo is actually just a part of the whole the fact that those who have learned karate feel it only consists of kicks and punches and throws and joint locks are only found in judo or jujutsu can only be put down to a lack of understanding those who are thinking of the future of karate. Should have an open mind and strive to study the complete art. But one Okinawan karate master was angrier than everybody else. His name was Motobu Choki. And he was known as the greatest fighter in the history of karate, and when he came to Tokyo, he did not like what he saw, so he decided to do something about it.

Jesse Enkamp:

In the very same year that Funakoshi arrived to Tokyo, a big exhibition fight was put on between a boxer and local Judo fighters in Kyoto. This was a way for the Japanese to spread awareness and boxing kind of in the same way that the Gracie family in Brazil would create the UFC to showcase their martial art and spread it around the country. Except in this case, things did not really go as planned. Because in the audience of that exhibition fight in Kyoto was Motubu Choki. And according to a 1925 article published in Japan, this is what happened. A huge foreign boxer who went by the name of George or possibly john, he might have been Russian he might have been German, we don’t really know was challenged by an old man in the audience of this exhibition fight. The man was slightly overweight, over 50 years of age and did not look like a fighter to the rest of the people in the audience. But as the rules went, any challenger had to be accepted because this was sort of a free for all Fight Night frenzy type of deal when multiple raised his hand and asked to fight the foreign boxer. People started laughing. And the promoter couldn’t believe his ears, but Motubu insisted, because he knew that this was his time to shine, and show the Japanese people that Funakoshi his karate was not the real deal. As he stepped up on the stage.

Jesse Enkamp:

People started whispering. Does he practice Judo or boxing? What is he gonna do? People had no idea that they were about to witness the full effect of karate. Unfortunately, there was a lot of rules in place. Multiple couldn’t use his clenched fists, he had to use open hands only as the fight started. Motubu assumed a weird posture that the Japanese people had never seen before and people started laughing. The boxer was visibly confused because he couldn’t really see a good opening in multiples defense. And as the boxer went for a giant swing to take most of his head off, he moved this body tracked the arm and hit the boxer with a open hand palm heel strike to this point, right between the nose and the mouth, knocking him out straight on the spot. And the audience erupted. Karate is now officially the new boxing, there was only one problem. When you look at the newspaper article afterwards, it shows each in Funakoshi. And multiple students later said that when he saw this, he was furious. So Motubu Choki actually went to visit Funakoshi kitchen, and he literally kicked his ass. But that’s a story for another time.

Jesse Enkamp:

The growth of karate skyrocketed, and the Japanese produced propaganda to make sure that everybody across the country could see just how effective karate was compared to boxing and it spread like a wildfire. Funakoshi had thousands of students literally and dozens of locations. As a result, karate is now one of the world’s biggest martial arts. But unfortunately, most of modern karate is incomplete when compared to its original version. Because it was created to be a Japanese version of boxing, when in fact, we all know that it’s much more than just striking. As a result, most modern karate practitioners lack the actual skills needed to handle real world situations. Because although Okinawan karate did consist of a lot of striking, that was just one tool in the toolbox, and if your only tool is a hammer, and suddenly, everything starts to look like a nail. As a consequence, a lot of people think that modern karate is impractical. But as a matter of fact, it is just incomplete because the punches, kicks and blocks and strikes that you do see in modern Japanese karate are highly effective, but they’re only one part of the story and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks and make karate complete again. And if you want to learn more about how karate was originally meant to be practiced, check out some of my other videos to learn even more because our Link to the Past is our bridge to the future. Thank you so much for watching. Train hard. Good luck, and have fun.




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