Tuesday 15 December 2009

Junin toiro

The Japanese idiom 'Junin toiro' literally translates "ten men, ten colours", and means "every individual is different". This was something my late instructor, Tetsuhiko Asai Sensei emphasized when giving me private tuition. Often, when I tried to mimic his movements perfectly (which of course I could never do!), he scolded me, saying "You must move in the best way for yourself".
His strict focus when teaching was correct form, trajectories of techniques, softness, smoothness, snap, and how things should be used (practically applied. That is, his bunkai/oyo-jutsu was 'three tiered' and highly specific... And he didn't accept variations). Beyond these points, as I stated before, he stressed that I maximise my own unique physique and attributes. You can compare Asai Sensei's and my kokutsu dachi in the photos here. Teacher and student, same stance but very different body shapes!

In retrospect I can see how wise he was, more than I could perceive back then, as this was the only way he could help me to develop my karate, and also pass on his knowledge. Sadly, I still have so many unanswered technical questions, but will continue to seek answers via my daily practice... One thing I do know is that it will take a full lifetime of karate-keiko to have even a small portion of the knowledge that Sensei physically possessed...


Anyway, like Asai Sensei advocated, always keep in mind 'Junin toiro' when training. Seek exact technical form and economy of motion/softness, and the other 'prerequisites for success', but always overshadow this with your individuality. Only by following this path can you make the most of your karate.
© André Bertel, Japan 2009.

No comments: