Dear Mike and others:
As always, I appreciate your input and respect your views and opinions regarding our beloved art! Please do let me respond to a few of the comments made above, however.
Mike you mention:
Then you ask, what is real? I don't believe I have to stand in front of someone in a freestyle sparring match to find out what is real, especially since sparring in the dojo or a competition is not what I would call a "real" experience anyway.
And I ask you again: If free movement, i.e. sparring, is not "real", what is, arm rubbing and pounding? The presence of rules (even a lot of them) does not necessarily render something "un-real". Boxing (more on this later) is probably one of the MOST real martial practices, and there are a good number of rules governing those matches. What is it about sparring that is not "real" to you, Mike?
Are you telling me that two guys beating the crap out of each other (whether it be sparring, boxing or other) is not "real" enough for you because there are rules? And if you say, "yes", I would ask you: Then how do you propose we train? Eye gouges, biting and hair pulling in the dojo? Would that be real enough for you?
You go on to ask me of some supposed set of "uniformed" rules in street fighting, and I of course concede that there are none. But I question you: Are there EVER any "uniform" rules whenever two people "face off", be it boxing, baseball, or yatzee?
No, Mike, there are no uniformed rules to street fighting. But in most scraps I have seen (and I have seen many) you generally have two idiots trying to punch the s**t out of each other. Period. When it escalates beyond this, it is not a street fight anymore it is a felony. And, as Canna-sensei points out, our karate practice does not generally prepare us for these kind of criminal assaults. (P.S. Jim Deluca, too, is a teacher and makes his observation having witnessed numerous teen brawls.)
And on the topic of kumite and bunkai, I must admit that you are right: Only your attitude and approach to any training exercise determines its value. Still, Mike, you must see that as a senior practitioner, very little can be garnered from these very limited exercises after the first several years. After that, students are doing bunkai by rote, and bring no REAL timing, distancing or ANYTHING ELSE that would improve their martial performance to the training table.
Also, despite your own words, I don't truly believe that you honestly think sparring DETRACTS from your form. Does sparring deviate from the beautiful nature of kata, yes. But, seriously, Mike, sparring taking away from form? Come now. You know this to be false in every bone of your fighting body!
On the subject of boxers you write: An experienced street fighter will probably wipe out a boxer anyway (IMHO). And I ask you again to consider the dangerous nature of this statement. Of course, you must first qualify what you mean by "experienced street fighter", but no person is more ready to bang - and do so with lightning hand speed, the ability to put together devastating combinations AND withstand a barrage of counter-offensive techniques - than the boxer. Remember, their ring rules do not apply in the street, either!
Lastly, you state: We are an art (budo) and boxing is a practice (bujutsu). I would never make the comparison in this day from a "do" art and a "jutsu" art.
Actually, Mike, "Budo" means martial way". "Bujutsu" means "martial techniques and/or skills". And when it comes down to what's "real", I'll take the former to the latter, thank you!
Gary J. Khoury http://www.uechi-ryu.com/khoury