Sunday, 16 December 2012

Flavour of the Month...(last month!)

Twilight over the dojo...and my magazine work(?)
For a while now something has begun to make its self clear to me, my time as a magazine writer is drawing to a close. I've been published, somewhere in the world, almost every month for over a quarter of a century, and although much of what I've had to say has struck a nerve (or two) in many, I'm convinced now, more than ever before, that I have been shouting in to the wind.

I've said this many times, budo is a concept more often spoken of than put into practice, and the tide of commercial and sporting interests have now washed away much of what was good and wholesome about training in karate. These days, it's all about status and politics, prestige and privilege....and of course: money! When the efforts on display in Paris recently are celebrated as the best karate has to offer, I know it's time to distance myself from an activity, and way of thinking, that has infected the way of karate.

Sport is good, commerce is necessary....but neither enhance karatedo: they only weaken it. Lowering the bar now far outweighs stepping up to the challenge, while following others, is now more acceptable than forging ahead by your own efforts. In a world where convenience is the starting point I find myself adrift, unable in many cases to even communicate with so-called karateka. Is it any wonder then, that editors now look at my work and see topics and points of view that no longer help to sell magazines.

Miyagi sensei & students - Iha Koshin standing to his right (holding sai)
When you look at this photo what do you see? Faces of long dead karateka perhaps, karateka who practised at a different time and with a different mentality than today? I see those things too, but I also see the face of Iha sensei, the man who promoted me to my present grade; I see too a tool (the twin-handle chi ishi on the far right) that I've worked with many times over many years. This photograph is not as distant from my karate as it is to many who make a big fuss these days of being linked to Okinawa or the karate of Miyagi Chojun.

It may well be that magazines need something other than the things I write about to survive in an age where people seem unable to stop communicating the mindless and  mundane on their i-phones, Facebook, and Twitter; and yet have little time to read anything that may challenge them to think for themselves. I also understand that, aside from how I think about karate, I'm no longer in the "mainstream" when it comes to karate practice; and with that in mind, it is completely understandable that my thoughts will continue to fail when it comes to finding fertile ground in the minds of today's magazine readers. What thoughts do grow in the minds of those who still read magazines probably need something other than my views to sustain them.

I've had a good run, and the New Year may still see a few magazine articles popping up here and there, but they will be few and far between. I intend to focus more on my books from now on, to re-publish my three early tomes, Roaring Silence, Small Steps Forward, and Budo Masters, as well as pursue a brand new project. I'll keep blogging too, I enjoy the "Dear diary..." aspect of it; and besides, with close to 8000 page hits each month, it's clear that many are continuing to find something of value here.