Sunday, 2 June 2013

Okinawan Seminars...the future of karate?


The Spirit of Okinawa
 I've posted before, very recently in fact, on the rise of karate/kobudo tourism in Okinawa: I don't like the idea at all; it lowers the bar and makes things easy for people, and let me remind those who may think otherwise, karate was never, ever, meant to be easy. I've made my opinion clear with regard to the tours run by a certain Californian business man; I think the karate world could do without people like him.

I now understand that a second business has emerged offering a very similar package to the first. The business plan seems only slightly different, but not as different as I first believed it to be. There is money to be made it seems, and people who wish to make it. As a result, I won't be at all surprised to see more and more karate tour companies springing into life in the near future. Actually, I can't see why karate organizations don't just arrange their own tours, and cut out the middle men.

With both the CFA tour and the Gateway seminars running at the same time in October, it might be better to attend the seminar organized by the Okinawa Dento Karatedo Shinkokai in September; you will get to train with almost all the same instructors as the CFA tour, and at meal times, you can avoid the long queues at McDonald's and KFC. Or...you might take my advice, and use the money you were going to spend on a seminar, and travel to Okinawa on your own to have a personal experience that's really worth having.

Approach people with good manners and humility, and the chances of you gaining entry to a dojo are very high. If you have no contacts in Okinawa, then try making  first contact here. Personally, I think going it alone is the only way to visit Okinawa for training, at least in the beginning. I can't get past the idea that the desire for things to be easy, coupled with the notion that you are entitled to things you haven't worked for, is what lies at the heart of the burgeoning seminar business in Okinawa. Businessmen exploit opportunities, and it's the weakness of character so prevalent in karate these days, that is providing this particular opportunity: are you sure you want to be a part of that?

As Okinawa reestablishes it's rightful standing as the spiritual home of karate, it would be a pity to see it fall on it's face by stumbling in a rush to make money. Okinawan karate and kobudo are very special activities, and in my opinion, neither should be given away lightly.