Sunday, 24 June 2012

Links to Past Masters

A much younger me, after training with Seikichi Kinjo at the Jundokan dojo.  As a young man, Kinjo sensei was a student of Chojun Miyagi
Here's a funny (as in sad) thing, I had an email recently from a guy who told me he could trace his karate directly back to Chojun Miyagi....(big yawn!). I've posted about this kind of thinking before, but I'm going to discuss it again, because clearly there are still folk out there labouring under the impression that the karate they are practising now, is the same as the karate Okinawans were doing a hundred years ago.

Over the course of Miyagi Chojun's life his training changed, many times. He grew up, stopped thinking like a child and began thinking like a man, ipso facto, his karate changed too. Besides, apart from the massive influence of his teacher, Kanryo Higaonna, Miyagi came into contact with others who also inspired him, thus influencing his training. I don't intent this post to be a history lesson on Miyagi Chojun, so let's leave it there for now.

I didn't reply to the author of the email...I just didn't see the point. But let me make something crystal clear here, I don't care if you can trace your karate back to Adam in the Garden of Eden. I don't care if your instructor's instructor, once trained directly with an Okinawan "master" who use to live next door but one to Miyagi Chojun's third cousin...ok! I don't care!!! I'm training in karate for me! For the value it adds to my life, now! I have no desire to compete with anybody who may feel their connection to goju-ryu is stronger than mine due to a series of links through countless connections.

Names on paper, lists of supposed links, dates placed in a particular sequence; none of these things mean anything in my karate. If you want to get really close to karate's historical forebears, just find a space and start training. By doing that, you at least have a chance of discovering for yourself what they found when they were alive; now...wouldn't that be a link worth having?