Thursday, 24 April 2014

Traditional Values...are they slipping away?

L - R: Me, the late Gibu  Sokuichi sensei, Miguel Da Luz....circa 2010 
Talk to the "average" traditional karate teacher today, and they will tell you that karate begins and ends with courtesy, that no matter how good your physical skills may be, nothing is more important than the way you conduct yourself in daily life; and if you let them, they will drone on about the character building aspects of "traditional" karate training until to slit your wrists...having lost the will to live!

So I have to wonder, why do so many who think of themselves as "traditional" karateka these days need to be constantly reminded of how to conduct themselves? With the increase in karate-tourism to Okinawa, it's easy for karate teachers and students to fool themselves in to believing they are training in Okinawa, conducting research, or my personal favorite piece of nonsense..."breathing the same air the masters breathed".....(pass me a bucket, I'm about to throw-up!).

Me outside the Jundokan....I can't remember when!
The reality is that traditional karate, whatever that is/was (?), has changed beyond recognition from the days when Okinawan men took up the challenge of training in karate; but I believe this is as it should be, for karate is not and never was a museum piece, but instead, a living, breathing, activity pursued by individuals (men and women these days) who don't need their ego stroked or their sense of achievement propped up by rank.

Recently, the Okinawa Karate Kobudo Liaison Bureau, posted a note of  "clarification" to remind karate-tourists and other visitors to Okinawa, about how to behave when they engage with either the Bureau, or directly with Okinawan sensei and dojo: you can read it here. When I read it I shook my head....the grown up world of karate, it seems to me, has been overrun by children.