Thursday, 14 June 2012

Traditional Karate...or Authentic?

A couple of my Spanish friends complete another tough challenge
The word Tradition is used a lot in karate, more often than not, by people who have no clear idea of the tradition they claim to be a part of. Like so many words in common use today (like awesome for example), its over use has changed it's value; giving it less currency than it once had.

I tend to shy away from applying the word traditional to the training I do these days, and have done for some time, I'll tell you why; I'm no longer sure it applies to me. At least, if it does, then it offers a rather poor description of my karate. When I think of my karate now I prefer to use the word, authentic.

Ok....so before all you traditionalist out there get on your high horse about my arrogance, let me set the record straight. I believe that anybody who pursues their karate with a spirit of honesty and quiet discipline, who trains more often than they teach, and who goes about their daily training with a minimum of fuss, is an authentic karateka. Regardless of style or affiliation, it's the spirit of the karateka that counts.

I've thought for some time now that it's not the kata you practise or the school you adhere to, but this "spirit" of authenticity that is the real tradition of karate. As with so many other aspects of budo, the acquisition of authenticity is a slow process; but I believe I know what authentic karate is, and what an authentic karateka looks like. My plan for some years now has been to keep training and to peel away as many layers as necessary, until I can stand in the dojo and catch a glimpse of authenticity.