Are you searching for a karate school for your child? Then you should know that broadly speaking, there are two different types of karate schools in the United States: traditional karate schools and sport karate schools like Urban Martial Arts. What’s the difference between traditional karate vs sport karate? This article will explain.
1. Training atmosphere and objective
One of the biggest differences has to do with the setting that you’ll be training in. Traditional karate school facilities are often minimalist studios without much in the way of fixtures or decorations. Classes are conducted on hardwood floors to mimic the way karate was traditionally taught throughout history in Japan. Most sport karate schools, on the other hand, conduct their classes on mats. Some use simple puzzle mats, similar to those you’d find in a daycare. Others, like Urban Martial Arts, use professional-grade mats just like those you’d find inside the cage at a UFC fight. Matted floors provide a safer training environment for students, especially when practicing rolls and throws.
2. Traditional forms vs open forms
At traditional karate schools, students learn forms (or kata) that have been passed down unchanged from generation to generation. These traditional forms never change over time. They consist of the exact same moves in the exact same sequence. At sport karate schools, on the other hand, students learn open forms. These forms evolve over time, and often include gymnastics-inspired techniques such as backflips and somersaults that wouldn’t be found in traditional kata.
3. Self-defense techniques
If you’ve ever watched archival footage of boxers fighting in the early part of the century, you’ll notice that their motions seem very rigid compared to contemporary boxers. The same type of difference can be seen in the self-defense techniques taught at traditional karate schools vs sport karate schools. At traditional schools, the self-defense techniques students learn have been passed down unchanged for generations. At sport karate schools, the self-defense techniques are designed for modern-day combat, so they are more fluid and reactive. Sport karate schools will sometimes even mix in techniques from other styles of martial arts, such as boxing or Brazilian jiujitsu, so that students can learn the most effective way to defend against common attacks, regardless of style.
Those are the major differences between traditional karate classes and sport karate classes. If you’re someone looking to discover deep cultural roots of the art of karate and can adhere to strict rules and guidelines, then a traditional school would be a good fit for you. If you’re someone looking to train in a more relaxed atmosphere with up-to-date techniques, then a sport karate school would be the ideal choice.
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