Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The same...but different!

A likeness of Higaonna Kanryo sensei
Keizu, or lineage, is an element of karate and kobudo that, while important on one level, is of no importance at all on another. The deciding factor here depends on what your involvement with karate and/or kobudo is. If all you're trying to do is gain rank, run seminars, or bask in the glory of what a great fighting man you are, then the people who came before you are of little importance...aside from your marketing strategy of course. On the other hand, a grasp of your martial genealogy is helpful when forming an overall understanding of what and why (but not how) you are doing the things you do.

A likeness of Miyagi Chojun sensei
When Miyagi Chojun accepted responsibility for the way he practised his karate and kobudo, it turned out to be different to the way his teacher practised his. Blasphemy!!!, just fact. Of course, what Miyagi sensei passed on was heavily influenced by his teacher...but only an idiot would believe it was exactly the same. There are a million-and-one things that create differences between how you end up doing something, and the way your teacher taught you to do it.

A likeness of Higa Seiko sensei
Teaching is displaying what is possible, learning is making it possible for yourself. Regardless of how brilliant your teacher is or was, if you're hopeless then forget's just not going to happen! A good teacher will discover ways that allow skills to flow from one generation to the next, a poor  teacher won't. From what I know of the men pictured here, they were all normal human beings; they lived very different lives and they all had different strengths and weaknesses; and yet each of them managed to pass something of great value on to others.

That they pursued their training with integrity for the main span of their lives, in my book, makes all three karateka the same....but different!