Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Show Me Your Credentials...

My credentials hang on the wall (left), below a portrait of my sensei
You read a lot these days about teachers of this and teachers of that....masters every one....or so it would seem. But you have to wonder who's endorsing these guys; in a world where marketing is everything, is a person's dan rank worth the paper it's written on?

For me, it all depends on who issued the certificate. Personally, I don't place any value on a dan rank issued by a bunch of ill-trained Westerners suffering from delusions of grandeur, no matter how impressive the name of their group is, or how well that group is respected by other groups just like it. It's not by accident that such gangs endorse each other, they do it in order to set the standard as low as possible and that way they can be seen to hold their own among their peers.

An example of my (poor and limited) writing skill
I have to laugh at the "sensei" who never had the guts to be a student for long enough to learn anything worthwhile, and yet believes himself able to teach karate to others. Who speaks of conducting "personal research", when in fact he only harvests other people's work, and attends a few seminars here and there. Who travels to Okinawa as a karate tourist to be spoon fed basics for a week courtesy of a Californian businessman; only to return home and talk about his school trip as if it was a serious attempt to investigate Okinawan karate.

Today,  personal experience is no longer the prerequisite it once was when it comes to passing on what you know. So I often wonder...what credentials do self-defense teachers have? Who endoreses the bunkai master who has never used kata successfully in a real fight...or even a sporting contest for that matter? It's interesting isn't these days you can become a karate expert simply by deciding you are one. The overwhelming mass of those who engage with karate today seem completely apathetic towards authenticity: 50 million karateka in the world today...I don't accept that for a moment!

The kanji, by the way, points toward something we all need in the study of karate.....