STRIKING POST – December 2018
Lately, I have been doing quite a bit of reflection on my karate journey. Where we came from and where we are headed. In many ways karate was much simpler in days gone by. There were far fewer “specialists”. My instructor Michael Delaney Sensei used to describe himself as a “GP” of karate. Though he knew a great deal about all of the different facets of karate, he did not consider himself to be an expert in any one area. Today it seems we have much more specialists; kumite experts, kata experts, kobujitsu, etc..
It is up to the dojo Sensei to choose their own path. It is not that easy to do. Some Sensei`s are torn between truly studying their own particular ryuha and unlocking its secrets hidden in the katas and bunkais or teaching what they need to for the benefit of their students. Due to the reality of current demographics; most karate students tend to be youth. Therefore they are interested in competitions. The reality is that for these Senseis WKF has become their ryuha. They spend a great deal of time studying, coaching running classes and clinics with the intent that their students will be successful in competition. There is an underlying sentiment as well that says ” If my student is successful in competition they will bring honor to their teacher and their Ryu”. This may be true somewhat, however, is it worth the price? The most revered and respected coach today is arguably Antonio Oliva Seba Sensei, 8th Dan, Wkf kumite expert. Most people do not even know what karate style he is from. When pressed he will tell you that he began his training in Shotokan. He does not bring honor to or represent any karate style. I feel the same can be said of the athletes. They are students of the WKF game.You cannot observe a kumite match and say this competitor is Shotokan or the other is Goju. They are WKF competitors and they look very much the same.
I am very fortunate due to my students, for the most part, being quite mature and are done competing or are in the twilight of their competitive careers. As such , I as the chief instructor, am much more free to study the various kata and bunkai of Chito-ryu and search for their deeper meanings in an effort to enhance my understanding of my ryu. For me the competition phase of karate is just that, a phase and it is no more important than any other. I encourage all of my students to compete, however, I am also trying to instill in them a love and a thirst for the art that is Chito-ryu. The hope is that if I am successful, they will continue to train long after their competitive years are done.
Personally, I feel that Soke still has a great deal to teach me and, God willing, I look forward to many years of training so that I might learn as much as possible.Along with my seemingly unquenchable thirst for knowledge comes the feeling of great responsibility and desire to pass on Chito-ryu to future generations. Again I defer to my Sensei, Micheal Delaney who explained to me that at this point we are custodians of the art and it is our duty to pass it on as it has been passed on to us so that future generations may benefit and O`Sensei`s legacy may be preserved. For all that Chito-ryu has given me, it is the least I can do.
At Mukashi dojo, I teach Chito-ryu first and all other facets including, WKF, refereeing, weapons, etc are a secondary consideration. I know that for many this is not the case. In the end we must do what makes us happy and to try to be something else will only result in frustration and is pointless.
A new year is upon us. Humble yourself to your training. The answers are out on the dojo floor. May you find Peace and happiness there and it will carry over throughout every part of your life.
May you all have a joyous and peaceful holiday,