I’ve been following this discussion a bit and would like to add my own observations.
I suppose the original premise might be based on several changes to history. The invasion of Okinawa never taking place so the Okinawan arts remained theirs alone. Then in Japan if McCarthur had a bad day, learning of the ‘experiments using karate on captured military personnel during WWII and as a result decided to suppress karate along with other Japanese martial arts, they may not have been found by US Military personnel.
Mr. Redman’s original discussion is somewhat flawed in that for the most part the Japanese did not start karate in this country. Him being a Shotokan stylist I understand his focus, but I think he vastly understated the role of returning US Military personnel creating the import of karate in the fist place.
Yes the entertainment industry in the West Coast did use karate in the Untouchables, the Man from Uncle, I Spy and other vehicles creating some awareness that karate existed but the returning servicemen from Okinawa, Japan and Korea did much more. You yourself are certainly an example. They found friends ,started clubs and drove much of the development.
On the other hand the only Japanese instructor I’m aware of Okasaki of the JKA, moved to Philadelphia and established a karate program at Temple University, I’m sure bolstered by him coming form the JKA University systems, their Instructor training program, etc. I know from there he also established an outside dojo and built his program forward. My roommate at Temple was one of his students in the mid 60’s.
He didn’t start by coming into the states to join the geek shows contesting against boxers and/or wrestlers. If the circumstances were different and this was occurring today, I’m sure others from Japan, trained like him would establish their own beachhead here using the same approach.
Assuming the rest of the world history remains the same, Japanese karate instructors would be well aware of what was happening world wide and would plan a karate invasion accordingly. On the other hand would the Okinawan’s even try instead preferring to keep what they have to themselves?
The art du jour will always be with us and anyone that wants that should do it, period.
Of course I come from a very different perspective, I only teach for free and run a program perhaps ½ step above a backyard dojo, teaching a small program through the boys and girls clubs for 30+ years and a much smaller adult program there too.
I teach the youth of my community because when I was young that’s what many adults did for the kids in many programs. To keep them out of trouble, provide guidance. It still exists in the youth soccer programs, little league, boy and girl scouts, etc.
Back when I was trying to work out how to start a program with no extra cash to pay for ir, before I started through the clubs, I used to walk around Scranton at lunch time and saw a city filled with dance studios. I realized what parents were paying to train their daughters, and once I started teaching the youth myself realized everyone trying to run a commercial karate program would be changing their programs in the future. No one believed me that to keep open they had to train youth, everyone, even my closest friends, thought I was crazy. Today any of them running a program are doing what I projected.
My program is somewhat different from other youth programs too. First they are in a mixed rank youth class but adults are never in the program. Second the course content is identical with the adult program. The average time for the exceptional youth to go from beginner to sho-dan standard takes about 7 to 9 years. Those who have done so have always been well focused and everyone of them leaves as they are then adults and have to move on in life. The first focus of the program is to make sure all students learn that they learn through their own efforts, nothing more. Those who have the personal focus to do more are the few who last.
On the other hand I recently copied about 100 hours of VSH tapes to DVD. Much of which was my friends/instructors from several systems (Isshinryu/Indonesian Shotokan/Aikido and Tjimande, and Chinese arts) who have taught my students, as well as at open clinics and camps over the past 30 years. The remaining tapes were snapshots of my program over the years. What stuck me most poignantly was that all of the hundreds of people in those venues have all left the arts, not just my students but everyone’s from every system. Whether small systems or larger successful commercial programs decades long, almost everyone moves on, except the few, and that few remain constant regardless of the type of program.
As my model was pre-1900 personal karate I’ve been most successful. All of my students would not be in another program, money being the major reason. I only take adults who are interested in what I teach, if they want something else I direct them there, such as anyone wanting Uechi I would direct to Buzz Durkin. When I have those with pervious training, especially black belts, I do my best to show them how different my progam is from what they’re used to. Half the time they don’t return, the other half the time they find something of interest and say. My average adult training length over the past 25 years exceeds 15 years per student to date, with my seniors 27 years into their own training.
My feeling is anyone importing a new art, starting small and working their student population with sound business practices (even for non-profit programs) can make their nitch into the current scene. I think this will be the case regardless of the version of an art being taught. I one comes to challenge it’s too much a case of ‘poisoning the wells’ to believe they would be unaware of that which they were challenging.
bushi no te isshinryu