Saturday 19 May 2012

Seeking true karate-do

Tonight Matt Brew Sensei and his lovely wife Eiko took me out to dinner. It was a wonderful time and I also enjoyed being with their baby daughter Reona and seven-year old son Luke (pictured below with 'Grover', Matt and me). It was great to discuss many things and of course, karate-do, as always,  was a major topic. We discussed the importance of mixing things up in karatedo-keiko, especially in regards to kata performed without the count to "self-develop" correct kankyu (rhythm) and regularly doing `matches'. Really speaking this is essential and needs to be done more.
As the only karate club in Christchurch training in Traditional Shotokan style Karate-Do, there is a huge responsibility. Nevertheless, the Christchurch IJKA Shotokan Karate Club is meeting this, and going from strength to strength: because it is focused on training. Such discussions and planning can only help karate practices here to be improved via critical analysis. Of course, this is impossible without a good number of high-level training partners who push us each week. No other Shotokan dojo in the South Island can offer this integral aspect.

While this is positive for us, it shows the sadness of other Shotokan clubs which simply exist because their leaders want to be the kings of their own little castles. They don't want to face a challenge (to really train with intensity)... They just want to be a "karate boss". Pathetic is the only word that comes to mind, and sadly this is commonplace all over the world.
Christchurch IJKA Shotokan is immune from this as it is open to everyone who simply wants to train in Shotokan-ryu karate-do and is not about money. Instructors training payment includes regular blisters and bruises; the occassional black eye, bleeding nose, or serious thump; and the very rare visit to A&E. That's why it is call 'instructors training" - no, it is not for everyone! For karateka who cringe at that, it is still a lot less rough than even high school rugby... This highlights how much karate has been watered down, and in most dojo, is no longer a martial art of self-defence.

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't goof around after training. In case you need a reference, Grandmaster Grover taught me that!

Again I would really like to thank Matt Sensei and Eiko for looking after me tonight. Mizuho also sends her thanks. Arigato gozaimashita. Just to conclude, seeking true karate is all about seeking high-level training; that is, authentic traditional Japanese "martial arts" karate-do and proper training, with the very best training partners possible. Osu, Andre.
© André Bertel. Christchurch, New Zealand (2012).