What is the difference between traditional Karate and sports karate?
On a technical point of view there is hardly any difference between “traditional karate” and “sport karate” . Whether it is Shotokan, Wado, Kyokushinkai, Isshin Ryu, Shoring Ryu, or any style, the basics are pretty much the the same.
The difference starts in the performance of the techniques. I do not mean the body, but actually the mind behind the performance.
Traditional karate is focused on self-defense, the killing blow, or survival. Every move in traditional karate has a meaning…to survive. The mind controls the moves, while the action itself is purely self protection, or self-defense.
Sports karate is set on scoring a point in order to become a champion or to get a trophy. The traditional idea of self defense is gone. Ego and “winning” take first place. Reality and survival gone and trophies are the priority.
This may sound aggressive in today’s modern and polite world, but if traditional training is the focus, then a traditional karateka will react more quick on various daily life events than a sports karateka will. A traditional karateka will go more directly to his goal in order to survive. A sports karateka will not react, as he does not know that his karate is about training the “human spirit” to survive in the first place. I do not mean in fights, but more like a job, with family life, etc. Reaction practiced in the traditional dojo can also be used in daily life. It teaches you to assess situations and make solid decisions quickly and commitment.
The major downfall for traditional karate is the lack of the need to “survive” in the world today…life has become too easy, especially in the Western World. The major downfall to sports karate is “the show”, it is not about survival, but rather “Show Time”.