I have the feeling that to some people “traditional” implies old, out of date, stagnant, something or someone who refuses to change and adapt.
When I think of traditional karate, I think just the opposite, I think of karate that is alive and evolving, I think of principles of budo that were learnt through many generations of trial and error and those principles allow us to evolve, we do not have to rediscover, we are lucky to have a gift handed down to us.
I think of old masters seeking for ways to transfer what they discovered through combat, realizing that words can be misinterpreted and are not enough, therefore created a kata as a symbol of principle, as a mean to transmit those principles. The kata with oral transmission is how we pass on the collective wisdom of many generations.
And our job is to build upon them.
I think that if we just imitate the kata and focus on the outside form, we miss the point, we become rigid traditionalists, and than we have dead karate.
If we look at the kata as a mean to understand the principles, than the application of those principles is limitless and we can keep evolving.
Principles are laws, rules, and truths of movement, of combat. As we seek deeper and further beyond our limits, those principles are like guidelines, so we don’t deviate from the right path.
Even the most genius person could not have created airplane or I phone 10,000 years ago. Using the advancements of science that are handed from one generation to next allow an innovative person to create and go beyond the known limits.
I believe that we in karate have to embrace the old, deeply understand what was passed to us and with that knowledge and with an unconditioned mind, with a mind that dies to itself every day, look into newest information from sport research, from other people and arts discoveries and with our own experience keep on seeking beyond the known.