|Me, (far Right), at the Higaonna Dojo, Okinawa, c1984. Note the state of my hands from the makiwara, back then stopping was not an option.|
I was reading an article recently in a karate magazine, and it began to dawn on me that I had little in common with the writer; nothing new there, I find I have little in common with the majority of karateka these days, but this was something different. The difference here was the writer's background, his comfortable middle-class upbringing, his experience of life as he was growing up. None of the things he was talking about in his article resonated with me.
With only 18 years training behind him he knew all about karate, and the best way to teach it. Back in the 1970's, when I began training, karate dojo were populated for the most part by working-class teenagers and men who were interested in fighting. I don't recall seeing children in the dojo in those days, nor too many women either, although there were a few. I'm not about to say the training was so much harder back then, I don't buy that one at all....but it was rougher: much rougher!
At some point, and I can't quite put my finger on when, karate training stopped being something only a few could cope with, and became an activity for all the family. I can't see how this situation could have come about from the students, for they had no say in how the training went; so it must have been the people teaching karate that allowed it to happen: but why? What possible motive could anybody have for diluting their karate to such a point that babies as young as 4 can handle it?