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Karate & Dance?

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

What's the Connection?


The connection of dance and Karate goes back to the origins of martial arts.

People who practiced martial arts were seen as a threat to the ruling powers or occupiers of the land. As a result they disarmed the populous and banned the practice of martial arts and use of weapons.

Martial artists disguised their practice as dance. The principles of music, repetition timing, conditioning, movement, leverage, momentum, coordination, performance are integral parts of martial arts and dance.



An old clip 1986 of Karate kata principles applied to self-defense.


Story: This was a last part of a test were we my friend Mark and I were to create a self defense routine using classic karate move. Previous test by other members were standard fare. My advantage was I had already trained in Aikido and Judo. We combined moves to the surprise of the class who had not seen mixed martial arts. This was a rehearsed routine. In a real self defense there are no fancy moves as in the movies. In a prolonged fight or multiple attackers they will exhaust you. Simple and direct techniques are more effective with no waste of energy. The same principle apply to dance.


1997 Improvised Switching Partners. Chad, Virginie, Ken, Margaret, Mishi Catalina Island CA. Video By Paolo Story: At the popular annual Swing Camp Catalina, after a long day of workshop and non-stop dancing we would still look forward to the last evening's dance at the beach. Our friends from San Diego Mishi and Margaret showed up to play on the dance floor. What you see is a complete on-the-fly, in the moment, improvised stealing and switching dance with Virginie, Ken, Me, and Margaret, so much fun!! Chad & Yumiko's First aerial in Japan Play Video Aerial Workshop in Oita, Japan. Yumiko first aerial after the workshop. Story: My first visit to Japan I taught an aerial workshop in Oita. Yumiko had never done aerials before. This was the first attempt to a song, she performed it like a pro!! I did not speak Japanese and she did not speak English we did have a local interpreter Lindy Hopper at the workshop. We both left Oita on the bullet train to Fukuoka. Since we could not verbally communicate on the long trip back. We went between the cars and I taught her the entire Shim Sham at 177 miles per hour! 2019 Teaching Daktari Shari's Black Performance Group Lindy Hop routine with aerials. Story: My good friend and teaching partner Shari asked me to teach her Black Perfomance Group, Lindy Hop . It was for historical dance performance showcasing periods of dance highlighting the roots of African dance and pride. Imagine the irony of an Asian-American (Me) teaching Lindy Hop to descendants of a dance created and originated by African-Americans. The opportunity to give back the joy I have received by teaching them, was a privilege and an honor . Doghouse Cabaret, Doghouse Mini Shim Sham (Just for Fun) Story: The "Doghouse" first venue run by dancers for dancers. For 9 years was the longest running Saturday venue is SF. An old English saying was when your feet ached, "Your Dogs are Barking" hence the name "The Doghouse" People from as far as Sacramento, San Jose, Petaluma an all over the Bay Area would come to The Doghouse to dance every Saturday. Frankie Manning, Norma Miller, Dawn Hampton, Rhthym Hot Shot, Smooth Stylists Lindy Hoppers from LA all came to visit or perform. The Doghouse Cabaret was a local community talent show of Bay Area Lindy Hoppers ,who were actually gifted performers with outstanding mix of talents. As much as we tried to match the tech to the performance the building –built in 1911– was too old to accomodate professional lighting and our zero budget depended on the love of Doghouse and volunteer tech and performances to make it happen. Swing Wars Metronome Ballroom SF Story: Metronome Showcase at Fort Mason Stage in SF. This theme was Smooth Style Lindy Hop vs. Savoy . A parody of the rivallry between the two styles, eventually being friends in the end. Joint effort in choreography between teachers and performers. Tweedle Dee & Dum Chad, Jason & Allison Metronome Ballroom SF Story: Every year as teachers at the Metronome Ballroom we had a showcase performance. That year was, "Allison in Wonderland" Jason and I took the part of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. The routine was so long and high energy we didnt think we could make it to the end of the routine we were so winded (And we were in condition dancing everynight), but we made it to the end...barely. 1998 Catalina Preliminary Performance in Marin Paul & Sharon, Chad & Virginie Story: Up until 1998 most Lindy Hop perfomances at Swing Camp Catalina Island – in Southen California– were fast, full of aerials and not always danced to the music. We came up with a slow tempo routine with a song and theme of switching partners. As a result we our routine was a big hit. We were even asked by the Sweds–who we idolized and admired–if they could incorporate switching in their future routines. 1999 Yerba Buena Auitorium Rob & Diane Performance Group. Chad & Katherine, Ken & Cynthia, Allen & Diane. Music by Lavay, Chris and the Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Story: Largest Lindy Hop gathering in SF back then. I remember looking at the crowd and thinking SF has finally come into it's own as a huge Lindy Hop scene. I performed–with others– in Rob and Diane Van Harren performance team for this event. Rob and Diane were a huge fixture in SF Bay SF scene, they taught and ran the Broadway Studio venue in SF and Swing Central, Foresters Hall in San Mateo. Old Clip of Karate kata principles applied to self defense. Story: This was the last part of a karate test we were suppose to perform classic karate moves previous tests performed by other students were standard fare. My advantage is that I had already trained in Judo and Aikido so my partner and I created our own combined moves much to the astonisment of the class. This was rehearsed, in a real self defense situation there are no fancy moves like in the movies in a multiple attack you have to conserve energy. Simple effective moves using less energy than your attackers or they will exhaust and defeat you. Same consepts applies to dance. True mastery is not to fight and avoid conflict unless your life or someone elses life is in danger.



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