Traditionally, there is no first-strike in karate or Taekwondo. Gichin Funakoshi, the father of Japanese karate, empathically stated "karate ni sente nashi" or "There is no first attack in karate." Funakoshi made the principle the second of his Twenty Precepts, second only to the directive not to forget that “karate begins and ends with courtesy.” Shoshin Nagamine, respected founder of the Matsubayashi school of Shorin-ryu karate, wrote that, “This phrase [. . .] embodies the essence of Okinawan karate.” Masatoshi Nakayama, longtime head of the Japan Karate Association, stated that, “[. . .] it is not an exaggeration to say that it is these words that succinctly and fully express the spirit of karate-do”
Supporting this tradition, most Taekwondo patterns begin with a block. However, not all Some patterns, such as Gwang-gae, begin with a strike. Is this tradition still viable in today's society? America has also has a tradition of no first-strike, however, this tradition was challenged in 2003 in the second war with Iraq when the United States attacked Iraq with no prior attack or direct threat of attack from Iraq. Since action is faster than reaction and it is important to seize the initiative in a threatening situation, some argue that a pre-emptive strike is imperative. So is first-strike ethically wrong or is it sometimes necessary?
In his book Karate-do Kyohan, Gichin Funakoshi wrote, "When there are no avenues of escape or one is caught even before any attempt to escape can be made, then for the first time the use of self-defense techniques should be considered. Even at times like these, do not show any intention of attacking, but first let the attacker become careless. At that time attack him concentrating one's whole strength in one blow to a vital point and in the moment of surprise, escape, seek shelter, and seek help." In his book Wado-Ryu Karate, Otsuka wrote, "There is nothing as unfortunate as finding one's self in a situation where he must utilize martial arts to protect himself. The objective of martial arts training is to train hard and yet search for a state where martial arts need not be used. Hence, one must seek the path of peace and desire that path as well." However, first-strike also has an history in the martial arts. In the classic text on strategy Go Rin No Sho (The book of the five rings), Miyamoto Musashi tells of three methods to forestall the enemy, one of which is, "attacking on the enemy's preparation to attack."
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