Monday, 14 July 2014

I'm sorry...but no!

Shoshin - student first!
I've received a number of requests recently from karateka wishing to visit the Shinseidokan dojo, all of them have been polite and, I believe, sincere; nevertheless I have, just as politely, said no. I indicated some months ago that as I approach my 60th year I am also approaching a different phase of my life, and because of that, certain adjustments are being put in place so that I get to continue living the life I want, rather than the life I end up with: only children and idiots ignore the road ahead.

Mindful living is not beyond the majority of karateka, although you would hardly guess that given the way so many choose to experience their time on the planet. So, why is being mindful of how you live, while grasping the notion of 'Mugen', seemingly beyond the reach of many who today think themselves karateka. How has karate come to this, or, has it always been this way? I cannot say for sure one way or the other, perhaps karate has never lived up to the spiritual hype people invest in it, or maybe the majority of karateka have always been too weak to move much beyond the kicking and punching bit.

In his book, 'Zen and the Way of the Warrior: Essays on the true spirit of karate' The late Toguchi Seikichi sensei talks about 'Mochi-Bun', the ability to understand. Among the many truisms in the book, Toguchi sensei has this to say; "Knowledge of everything does not necessarily lead to the understanding of anything. The important thing is to develop your ability to understand in relation to your personal, everyday life."

This approach to understanding karate is a far cry from the karateka today who want to know every application for every posture and technique in every kata; or the karateka who want the ability to kick vertically while standing and fight like an octopus when on the ground: just in case. It also highlights the chasm that exists in the thinking of those karateka who see themselves as students, and those who believe themselves to be teachers.