If Karate is a self-defense art, as it surely also is, to be really effective it must change with the passage of time.
It’s technique developed in an environment where the strongest aggressions were physical, a face to face confrontation; this was an environment where you were not shot at from a distance with a revolver or a rifle, or at least not very frequently. Today this is not the case, you can be attacked with extremely sophisticated weapons, say laser sight rifles, in these cases Karate techniques are totally ineffective. However, I am not denying the fact that we may be assaulted round any corner, seriously injured or even killed; this in fact happens every minute in our world and we must be prepared for such an event. Even if this is so, in my opinion, this is not the only way we are assaulted even considering the very violent environment our city streets nowadays represent, I am convinced that physical aggression is the lesser attack among those the individual is exposed today. I must furthermore clarify that if we were in middle of a war or a highly conflictive environment, our karate training would have to be methodologically different to that commonly done.
It is my opinion that the most adequate self-defense is the one that best prepares the participant for defense from aggressions that exist in his surroundings. I believe that in our society today we are subjected to a permanent aggression, in much subtler ways than a weapon-wielding individual. It is my personal opinion that the main aggression is of a psychological nature and it is expressed in many varied ways.
What really makes it a subject to worry about is that it mostly appears camouflaged and dressed up in a very beautiful way. We are permanently manipulated by propaganda, the publicity and little by little modern man/woman loses his identity. They live confused in a manipulated mass, directed to work, consume and we are not only told to consume, what to consume but even how to think. As each day goes by our modern society lives more and more without a direction, without really knowing why and for what it exists. This has resulted in the creation of a valueless society where the only valid measurement method is the market value.
On the other hand, different power groups, economical, political, religious, and others, try to manipulate men/women for their own benefit taking no interest in the effect their actions may have on the individuals. In this situation the individual lives more and more stressed, more and more agitated, anxious and in the constant depressions. We have actually reached the point where it would seem that those that do not suffer „stress” or depressions is not living, when it is the exact contrary case. Due to the fact that humans have gradually lost their connection with life, they are sinking in quicksand and they do not know how to get out, even if they do notice they are in a problem.
How can modern society and the men and women that form part of it defend themselves from this destiny?
Considering the former I believe that that is main aggression that modern people confront today, thus it is very narrowly restricted to talk about self-defense merely as hitting and avoid being hit. I believe that karate as a self-defense method must prepare men/women not only in the face of physical aggressions but also in the face of the strong and constant psychological attack he/she is exposed to. It is almost unnecessary to clarify, but I believe the latter defense is the most important, because defense against physical aggressions is actually inherent to the technical structure. The question is now: what methods can obtain a better effectiveness in karate as a self-defense system considering our modern conditions?
If we strive to see Karate as a „Do”, it must be able, in my view, to not only offer an adequate self-defense, it must also be capable to bring harmony and peace to the participant. Thus it will step by step insert him/her in a system that gradually will take him/her closer to himself/herself. Only in this case will the objective of the art be attained and we will be able to say „Karate-do protected my life”.
by Humberto Heyden Sensei