Karate-Marketing à la Funakoshi

(by Marc Janott, April 2015)

Das Foto zeigt Gichin Funakoshi.

Master Gichin Funakoshi is one of the most prominent personalities in the history of karate. He played a big part in the propagation of karate in mainland Japan at his time. Aside from his political work with government und associations, in his book "Karate-Do Kyohan" (1935) he phrased some statements about karate which, in terms of marketing, feel as current today as they were then.

Funakoshi describes how comprehensive and versatile karate is, and that there are practically no prerequisites for beginners. It is a perfect choice even for people who have only limited time for exercising, he says.

As a marketing tool to be used by modern-day clubs and associations for promoting their karate, I have picked the following 6 quotes from the book. After presenting the quotes, I will wrap them up in short and concise advertising claims. So here we go...

Funakoshi's statements

  1. "Karate training may extend over one's entire life, beginning […] ideally in junior high school years [11-14 years of age]." (p. 37)
  2. "Karate […] may even be practiced by the physically weak […] and by elderly people. […] since each individual may adjust the exercise to his own capacity." (p. 12)
  3. "The nature of karate is such that it requires the body to move in all directions, in contrast, for example, to the emphasis on the arms in rowing or the legs in jumping. There is absolutely no need for concern about one-sided development of the body in karate, and the fact of uniform development may be considered to be one of the benefits of karate." (p. 11)
  4. Almost no other form of exercise […] can be performed at any time or place as easily as karate. Most sports require a large area, equipment, or a partner, and in this regard as well, karate is the most adaptable. No specific area, equipment, or even partner are necessary, for it can be performed in a garden, living room, hallway, at any time or place that one feels the desire to practice." (p. 12)
  5. "In most cases, only a minute or two is required to complete a kata. Moreover, as one continues to practice, the movements become quicker und the training as a whole more vigorous, so that one can get ample exercise from a relatively short period of time. This is an ideal form of exercise for the many people today who complain that they would like to exercise, but they just do not have the time." (p. 11)
  6. "In karate, hitting, thrusting, and kicking are not the only methods; throwing techniques and pressure against joints are also included." (p. 227)

Karate advertising claims

These could be written in modern words as follows.

  1. Karate can be practiced at any age. Everyone works according to their individual capacity.
  2. Karate is a great exercise for the entire body.
  3. Karate can be practiced at any time at any place, be it in the training hall, at home or in a hotel room, be it alone, with a partner or in a group.
  4. Karate is affordable for everyone. No expensive equipment is required.
  5. Karate offers healthy, intensive 2-minute workouts - perfect for everyone who has only limited time to practice, due to school, family or work.
  6. Karate is an all-embracing martial art, including punches, strikes, kicks, throws, locks and grappling.

I think it's brilliant: Funakoshi wrote down in 1935 what we can use 80 years later to promote our karate today. It doesn't need much else. Throw in some additional information about what aspects of karate your club/association emphasises, and you're done.